Child care is defined as someone other than a parent is taking care of a child(ren) in attempt to help make them grow physically, emotionally, socially and mentally. For a single parent who works or goes to school during the day, child care can benefit both the child and the parent. When selecting child care, be sure the facility or caregiver:
- meets health and safety standards
- provides activities that enhance social behavior and imagination
- strengthens the parent/child relationship
Qualities That Make Up a Good Child Care Facility:
- loving caregivers (the person who is in charge of your child)
- staff with training and experience in caring for children
- caregiver that understand the wants and needs of both the children and the parents
- clean safe environment
- adequate space to play and interact both inside and outside
- areas for napping and for snack or lunch.
- toys that are creative, fairly new, and safe
- variety of indoor and outdoor daily activities for children of all ages
Different Types of Child Care
At-Home Care is provided by an individual in your home. This can be a friend or relative but may also be a professional nanny.
Before and After-School Care is arranged by parents whose schedules do not allow them to be available when school begins and/or when school lets out.
Child Care Centers provide care in a setting for several children such as nurseries and preschool. This is common for younger children.
Family Day Care is care provided for a child in a home setting, usually after school. Often there are other children present. Typically there is an emphasis on doing homework with some playtime.
Employer Sponsored Child Care may be offered by larger companies for the children if its employees.
How to Find Quality Child Care
Child care is extremely important for your child's welfare, so be sure to shop carefully. Start by making a list of services in the area. The following are good sources of information:
- social service organizations
- churches and synagogues
- schools and universities
- friends, neighbors and co-workers
- YMCAs & YWCAs
- Girls & Boys Clubs
- local women's groups
- community organizations
Conduct a Site Visit
Once you have a list of possible providers, visit two or three with your children and talk with the providers. Good questions to ask include the following:
- What days and hours are you available to provide care?
- What does the cost include and how often is it due?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- What is your experience/education?
- What is the caregiver to child ratio?
- What is the daily routine and activities?
- Can I visit whenever they like?
- What happens if my child(ren) or someone else's becomes sick?
- Do caregivers know basic first aid- CPR, etc.?
- How are children disciplined?
- How long have you been in business?
- Is transportation available? If so, what kind and by who?
- Are meals and snacks provided?
- Is there homework time?
- Do you have any child care licenses?
Things to look for on your visit:
- current state child care license
- toys and furniture appears safe and are in good condition
- electrical outlets have safety caps and heaters are not exposed
- smoke detectors and monthly fire drills
- first aid equipment.
- clean facilities
- fenced play area
- storage space for each child
- adequate play and rest areas
Guidelines for making your decision:
- How much can you afford to pay and for how long?
- Do the available times for child care meet your needs?
- What is best choice for your child's welfare?
- Which child care facility has activities that will benefit your child?
Get a written agreement that includes:
- cost and payment schedule
- emergency provisions
- daily schedule
- days and hours of operation
- caregiver's responsibilities
- parent’s responsibilities.
Help your child adjust to child care:
- Make it easier on both you and your child(ren) by talking about it.
- Allow for plenty of time to get ready.
- Let your child(ren) take a favorite toy or "security" blanket.
- Spend some time at the child care facility with your child(ren).
- Always say goodbye to your child(ren).
- Call occasionally to see how things are going.
- Get to know the caregiver.
- Have a positive attitude.