Child Care Providers

Finding child care services

Choosing child-care providers that will work with your family and your child can be challenging, especially if this is your first time apart from your child in this way. Many parents find deciding on child care services to be an emotionally draining process, but knowing what you're looking for can help put your mind at ease along the way.

Choosing Day Care Services

With any care provider, your number one priority should be to check references. So if you want to put your child in day care and are looking for day-care providers, the first thing you should do is research the centers you are most interested in, and collect some references. Ask the day cares for them, and ask other parents whose children attend each center what they like and dislike about it.

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Next, visit each day care and ask for a sample menu, activity list and daily schedule. Find out which processes they have in place for children who won't eat, or won't nap, and ask what the plan of action is in times of crisis – what if your child gets sick or hurt, for example?

While some of this information may be available online, it's only by going to a day care in person that you can observe how the staff interact with each other and with the children. Are they warm, patient and kind? What do they do when a child is crying, or if two or more children need them at the same time? Their behavior will help you determine if this center is a good fit for your family.

Finally, consider the expense. Like any child care costs, day-care costs can vary according to many factors, such as where you live, how many children you are placing in care, and how many days per week you require day care. You may be charged extra for supplies like diapers and food; if you bring these things in yourself, the cost may go down.

Day care can be an excellent way for your child to socialize with other children and adults outside of the home. Be sure that you are comfortable with the provider you choose, and you won't have to worry about your little one when he or she is away from you.

Other Quality Child Care

If you consider an in-home babysitter or nanny, arrange a visit where you can watch the person interact with children, including yours. The process of nanny-screening is similar to that of day care: ask the nanny for references (and check them carefully), and ask him or her to show you a sample daily schedule, menu and activity list so that you can be sure your child's day will be structured.