Choosing a child care -advice from a novice

have you had to find child care before? are you an expert or a novice like me?

childcare5due to some unseen events, the kid is coming back home early for the summer from his moms. YAY!!!!!!! we kinda knew that this would happen. since the bf is working full time during the day and i work full time, we need child care. to give you a little background information, my bf has always been a stay at home dad. i have (still do) make enough for us to live comfortably. it was not because he was lazy or not able to find work, we just found it easier for him to stay home. when his son left for the summer for Georgia, to stay with his mom, he decided he would get a job. the kid is getting older and it gives him something to do during the day.

my job is not very flexible when it comes to hours, but i do have set hours. i work Monday thru Friday, no weekends, no holidays. when school starts, i am able to get him ready for school. but we both are not able to be home around 3 pm when he is out of school. cue dilemma!! bf hours are not very flexible as well. he usually has to be at work from 730 to 6 at night. he is not able to help with after school but he is able to help the kid get ready for in the morning before school.

looking into child care i found out is a difficult process. i didn’t know where to begin! do i go with a parent that is local, school program, local child care facility, relative?!? the options are endless and started to give me a headache.

i’m sure that i am not the only one that has had this issue. if you are not to that point yet, please feel free to learn from my advice. if you have any advice, feel free to let me know!

WHAT WE WANTED IN A CHILD CARE PROVIDER

  • reliable and trustworthy- they are watching our son. we want them to be reliable because we both can’t just stop working. plus, gotta know you are gonna take care of our kid just like your own.
  • fit out schedule- Monday thru Friday. after school care, 3 pm to 6ish. childcare1
  • affordable- nothing to expensive, nothing to cheap
  • help with hw- doing hw after school i feel is the best time to do it. not 3-4 hours later. someone that can help with hw as well as make sure that it gets done.
  • rule setter and follows through- we want someone that knows that if a rule is in place and it is broken that it is followed thru with. no push overs.
  • activities- i hate when kids sit in front of the tv or tablet for hours. why?!?! go play with toys, read, play outside, move.

BASIC THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A CHILD CARE

  • cleanliness. look around the house or place that you are going to. see if people are all standing because the floors are dirty. are the tables, floors, etc clean? is it smelly from old food, dirty diapers, or even cigarette smoke?
  • cost. you want affordable but not so cheap your asking yourself why? but not so expensive your looking at the place like they better be serving sushi for lunch for this price! find out what is covered in the cost. snacks, activities, etc.
  • experience. if you are doing in home care or even in a facility, find out how long the caregivers have been doing it. if they are teenagers, take that into consideration. do you want someone experienced or not?
  • childcare2parenting policy. ask what they expect from your child. talk about discipline, time outs, snacks, nap time, tv, activities, homework. you don’t want to send your child some where that they can get away with things and then come home and try to do it there when you know that it isn’t acceptable.
  • back up care. if at home care, if the caregiver is sick how soon of a notice do you get? if facility, do they ever close down? if a child is sick, what are symptoms that prevent them from attending?
  • take a tour/meet and greet. meet the home care individual. see their house, children, areas where the child is going to play. see if it is something that you are comfortable with your child spending his/her time. tour the facility. find out what activities are offered. is it engaging? what are the age groups? do younger mix with older children?
  • word of mouth. do you research of the facility or home caregiver. talk to other parents, get their input. put feelers out in the community. look online at reviews. go on facebook, i know this sounds strange but when i was looking into home caregivers, i learned a lot from a potential parent by the facebook.
  • communication. can you get along with the caregiver? if there is a problem, how is it going to be solved. you don’t want a place/person that is not going to give you updates about your child or tell you about a problem but not address it.
  • trust your gut. this is my policy no matter what. if i have any doubts in my mind, i follow thru. i don’t want to be going “what if?”

HOME CARE VS FACILITY CHILD CARE

  • Hours. home care can sometimes be a little more flexible. they might work with you in case something happens at work and you are late getting off work. facilities usually have set hours.
  • Cost. from doing my research, facilities are more expensive then home care, but not by much around here. my gym offers 4-5 days a week for $40 after school care. this included a snack, activities, free hw help. one of the caregivers I looked into for the same price was just basically a seat at a table. one place i looked into was $37 a day! for 3 hours after school. that is insane!
  • blending of ages. home care everyone seems to be together. most of the time in the home you can only have about 4-6 children depending on age to one adult. i had one caregiver have age ranges from 1 to 11. facilities have all age groups but they do break off into different groups to interact.
  • at home is exactly that in a home. it is usually with one caregiver taking care of your child every day. its homey. in a facility you might have multiple staff members. they might be at school all day or even in a gym, cafeteria, etc.

HOW TO DECIDE

  • make a list. my bf and i, basically sat down and thought about what we wanted.
  • no compromise. don’t just go with someone that is cheap because it is cheap. go with what you think is the best.
  • cost. it is a big factor. think about what you can afford and if you are willing to pay the price. child care is expensive. my research showed, younger children are more expensive to take care of.
  • take the tours. more than once. get a feel for the place. spy, just drop by to get some information but take a look around. see how the staff/caregiver is interacting with the child. communicate with people and find out what is happening.

optimally, it is the best fit for the child and parent. you want a place that your child is childcare3able to grow, be supported, love, opportunities for growth and challenges with activities. the last three days i have learned so much about child care. i have researched and talked to so many people about what they do. i make connections with others to find child care. i learned that not always cheap is the way to go. for example, i looked into a woman that charges $2 a hour. after reading information on facebook and asking around, that $2 a hour feeds her drug addiction. crazy!

OUR DECISION

we have decided to go with a local facility. my gym after school care Monday thru Friday. for 4-5 days a week, which is full time, it is $40. they also cover school delays and cancellations. he would be joining other kids his age. they have a “set” schedule of an activity after school to work off the energy from sitting in a desk all day, snack, homework, and then “play time.” play time can be anything from reading, playing in the gym, swimming, playing wii, etc. they keep them busy but also with supervision. i talked to many of the staff members getting information about what their policy is with discipline. they actually set up a contract with the parent, kid, and staff. in this contract, you talk about what you expect from the child during hw time. if you want them to complete everything or what kind of help. what activities are acceptable as well as what behaviors are appropriate and how they are dealt with.childcare4

we did look into many different home caregivers. a lot of them. they were interesting. some had a wide range of age groups. some provided no snacks, activities, or hw help but charged a large amount. people smoke in the home. no reliable care. just researching people was a challenge.

family members were also considered. bf mom lives close by and offered to watch kid after school. it is not like we have a problem with her… well the bf doesn’t. i do. from experience i knew it is not the best idea. we know that making sure hw is completed the right way would be a challenge. appropriate snacks after school has always been an issue. i get off work at 5ish and i didn’t want to have to spend every night at her house eating dinner because she started cooking dinner. also, grandmas sometimes are not always rule followers. i’m sure it’s in their handbook somewhere but still, follow the rules!

we did decide to let bf mom help us out for the rest of the summer. she will be watching him during the week while we both work. my mom will also be helping to watch, most likely Tuesday to Wednesday due to her living about 40 minutes away.

did you enjoy this post? i know it was long to read but are you more prepared for when you need to choose a child care place? do you have more advice for me?

 

 

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