Child care centers seem to be popping up everywhere, but not all are quality places to leave your child. So, how can you tell if a place is right?
Ashley Wiley is expecting a baby girl this October and she's already started the search for a child care provider.
You need to start your search for child care much earlier than you probably even imagine. About the time that you're telling all your family members that you are expecting is really when you should start looking for child care because there's likely going to be a wait list. You also need to be prepared that you're probably going to have to give a deposit as well so just know exactly what you have to do, but starting early is going to alleviate the stress down the road.
Angie Hicks advises, "Before you start your search you want to make a list of what's important to you in a child care provider because there are lots of options. You can be at a center, you can be in-home, you can have a nanny coming in to take care of your child. Make a list of what's important to you and then start looking for locations that can provide that. Also, be sure to go visit the daycare center, see them interacting with the children and don't be afraid to have all your questions answered and make multiple visits if necessary because you want to be comfortable with your final decision."
Ashley says, "We have started searching for daycare options and it is quite stressful. I've looked at in-home daycares, I've looked at church facilities, I've looked at daycare facilities. Not really knowing yet what we are going to do. I've gotten quotes from all three, so we are still trying to make a decision."
"We're working for a combination of three things for a daycare: price being one of the things as well as safety for our child and also location," Ashley continued.
Finding someone to car for your child is probably one of the most difficult decisions that a parent makes. You want to make sure that you've got your child in a loving, safe environment. But in a recent Angie's List poll, 20 percent of the respondents didn't even check whether their child care provider was licensed or had the proper credentials and that is something you must do.
According to a recent Angie's List nationwide poll:
Of those respondents:
Common choices for child care
Before you start calling around, create a list of qualifications – sort of like a job description.
Decide what qualities are important, the skills you want the caregivers to have, their level of education and how many years of experience they have?
Once you start the interview process, have your children there to see how the applicant interacts with them and watch how your children react, too.
With so much to consider, Angie's List has compiled 10 tips to help streamline your child care decision-making:
1. Start early. Some of the best child care providers also have the longest waiting lists. It's best to begin your search well ahead of time.
2. Weigh your options. The type of child care you want should be the first decision you make. Child care centers, in-home providers and family care providers offer a range of services. It's important to determine what will work best for you and your child.
3. Make a wish list. Before you begin your search, list your expectations and preferences. Update or delete from this list as your perceptions change.
4. Know your budget and what value and benefit your child will receive from the care selected. Child care costs can be staggering, so consider your options and your budget carefully.
5. Visit the facility. Consider bringing your child with you to observe his or her interaction with the provider.
6. License, please. Know your state's licensing regulations and check that the provider qualifies with no history of violations. Find out whether the provider has accreditation
from a respected authority. Providers that are accredited have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements.
7. Safety first. And always make sure providers are certified in CPR and first aid.
8. Check references. Get at least three references, and be sure to review them carefully. If you see parents on-site, ask them about their experiences with the provider.
9. Don't settle. Even if your search gets exhausting, don't settle on a provider until you are positively satisfied.
10. Find a backup in case your provider gets ill or for some other reason can't care for your child. This is especially important for family child care and in-home providers such as nannies, au pairs and baby sitters.
Angie's List Tips: Questions parents should ask
1.) What is the adult to child ratio? The fewer children for each adult, the better. Many states have laws governing the maximum number of children per caregiver.
2.) What are the caregiver's qualifications? Ask about licensing, ongoing training and education.
3.) What's the turnover in staff/teacher positions? Caregivers who come and go make it hard on your child.
4.) Are they accredited? If not, ask why.
5.) How do they discipline the children? Make sure it's consistent with your methods.
6.) Are they CPR certified? If yes, what was the date of the last certification?
7.) Has everyone had a background check?
8.) What would happen in case of an emergency?
Angie's List: What to look for when touring a facility
Once you find quality child care, your job is not done!