Finding quality childcare is one of the most difficult jobs of a new parent. To help you along, here are some tips!
No matter what type of child care you choose, you should start with a lengthy interview process. Here are some sample questions to ask:
- How many children are currently in your care?
- What are the ages of the children in your care?
- How will you ensure the safety of my child?
- How many children are full/part time?
- How long have you been in the child care field?
- How long do you plan to continue in this field?
- What is your experience/education?
- What is your typical day like?
- What activities would my child experience?
- How do you help my child learn new skills?
- What is your policy when a child is ill/you are ill?
- Are you certified to administer medications?
- What is your policy for holidays and vacations?
- What meals/snacks do you provide?
- Do you provide transportation or go on field trips?
- How do you handle discipline?
- Ask the provider for names and telephone numbers of parent references. CALL THE REFERENCES.
- For all non-commercial child care, you should get a criminal background check done. You can do this on various Internet web sites. If there are any other adults that will be around your child, you should get a background check on them as well. When you meet with the childcare provider, get their full name, date of birth, social security number, and driver’s license number. Find out what counties and states they have lived in. Do criminal background checks on all of those counties. For commercial childcare centers, check with your local government on the validity of their childcare license and if any complaints have been filed.
- Many parents assume that once the background check is done, they’re in the clear. While criminal background checks are imperative, it is also important that you do drop-in visits. Visit your childcare provider without calling at random times during the day while she is with your child. This will tell you how she handles your child when you are not there. For the first few months, do a few of these drop-in visits, perhaps two – four a month. You can slowly taper them off after you feel comfortable that your child is being well taken care of.
- Be sure to check references. These should be community references as well as parent references for children that have been taken care of in the past. If your childcare provider is watching other children, be sure to talk to those parents too. Find out if they are happy with her and what she does to make them feel that way. See if they have any misgivings at all.
- Listen to your instincts. A lot of new parents feel unsure about listening to their instincts, since parenting is new to them. Even if you do not have a lot of experience with parenting, you know what is good and not good for your child. If your instincts are telling you something is wrong, then chances are something is wrong. If you feel this way, talk to your childcare provider and confront the issue that is bothering you. If this does not resolve the problem, remove your child from their care as soon as possible.
- All state-licensed daycares should display their license where you can see it. Be sure to take note of the license and write down the license number. Contact your state agency to determine the status of the daycare and to see if they have had any complaints or investigations.
- If your childcare provider seems overwhelmed with taking care of your child, find someone else. If she is constantly stressed by taking carey of your child, or believes that your child is a difficult child, then she cannot take care of her properly. Find a better fit for your child. An overwhelmed childcare provider could lead to abuse.
- If your child develops constant diaper rash and/or her behavior changes drastically after placing her with a new childcare provider, once again, listen to your instincts. Find a new childcare provider.
Most childcare providers get into their business because they love children. While this is true in most cases, it is up to you to protect your child, as you well know. It is better to be overprotective than to ignore your instincts. Do your homework, trust your child, and trust yourself and you should find a perfect childcare solution.
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