Choosing a Daycare

My husband and I knew going into our pregnancy that we would need to find a quality daycare for our child. I was anxious from the start to find just the right care provider. This person would be the one raising my child right alongside my husband and me. It wasn’t a decision I wanted to make lightly or on a whim.

We considered all our options. I priced in-home care, nannies and the like only to discover that they were way out of my budget. If I could afford a service like that, my husband could stay home and care for our daughter–which would have been ideal. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. We next looked at day care facilities run in private homes, which was much more in line with our budget and, at least for us, more preferable to using a facility day care.

There are resources available for soon-to-be parents looking for daycare options. In the United States, the local office of education often has a list of daycare options in the area requested. Community Care Licensing or the licensing agency that licenses daycares also can provide a list, as well as provide background information on providers that can be quite helpful for the discerning parent. Other resources include the internet and phone book.

In our case, I chose to use the best resource I had–word of mouth. Two daycare providers came especially highly recommended, both by people whose judgment I not only trust, but who I knew were tough mothers who are very vocal and involved in their children’s care. A coworker offered to check with her brother who worked for licensing as well. So, I didn’t have to wait long to get the background information I was interested in.

I was not sure when a good time to approach the care providers was. I was anxious to get started as early as possible, but three months in was probably too soon. I didn’t actively begin looking for a day car provider until about four months in. I think the general recommendation is to wait five to six months. Why so early? Waiting lists. The best homes often have waiting lists or at least may need a heads up to ensure an opening is available for your child when the time comes.

My next step was to set up interviews with the care providers. I came armed with a long list of questions. I expected most of my questions to be answered in the course of conversation, which is exactly what happened. But I felt more confident having the list handy. This is my future child we are talking about. I didn’t want to miss something important.

While interviews are an important component, the unannounced visits can offer a lot of insight as well, and I highly recommend doing one or two before making a final decision about whether a daycare is right for you and your child. So much can be gained from seeing the care provider in action, interacting with the children, dealing with your unexpected presence, and just getting an idea of how things are run during the day.

There is a lot to take into consideration when deciding on a day care. It is not an easy decision to make. Do you want a daycare close to your home or your work? I decided to look closest to my work. That way, I could use my lunch breaks to visit my little girl, whether it be to nurse or play. I like the idea of being able to hop right on over whenever I like, having her close to me. Having the daycare closer to home has its own advantages, especially if it is one that you will be able to use into your child’s school years.

My husband and I were quite pleased with the two care providers we checked out, and it was not an easy decision to make between the two. Well, it wouldn’t have been, anyway, expect for the fact that one had more flexible hours that fit with my work schedule while the other one didn’t.

My child is about two months away from entering this world. I hope to keep her home for at least three months once she’s born before she will go into daycare. If I could swing it, we’d wait longer, but I have to be realistic. I feel a sense of relief knowing I have a place already lined up for her to go and confident that I chose a quality daycare where she will receive the best care, outside of my home.

My list of questions for the daycare providers:

Hours/Days of operation? Are you open on any of the holidays?
How many children do you care for? What are their ages and genders?
How much do you charge? Do you charge for vacation/sick/absent days?
Do you charge extra if I’m late?
What is your sick policy?
Medication policy?
How do you handle emergencies, including medical emergencies?
Do you have infant and child CPR training? Do you carry liability insurance?

We’re looking at beginning child care services the end of May beginning of June. Will you have an opening then?
Security/Safety?
Do you allow drop in visits?
Where will my child sleep?
How much time will my child be in a crib or play pen?
Feeding schedules?
Who will be handling my child? Changing diapers? Feeding my child (do you hold the child while feeding)?
Will I be able to nurse? Will you be willing and able to store and feed my child breast milk from a bottle?
What will I be expected to provide?

What activities do you have throughout the day for the children?
Discipline policy?
Toilet Training?
Are children ever transported in a vehicle while in your care? If so, do you have a valid driver’s license and what is your driving record?

How long have you been doing this?
Do you smoke?
Do you have pets?
What would you do if you and I disagreed about something?

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. caspette
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 19:28:44

    Ok you asked heaps of good questions and were far more logical then we were. I wanted a home care arrangement (in Australia often called family home/day care) but the waiting list here was just too long.

    We got into a facility that to us was pretty good. It had good references from friends and hubby knew the manager.

    I would also recommend let your gut guide you. We looked at one facility and while it was good my senses just screamed “no”. What turned me off was seeing a baby in the sleep room crying and no one could hear it over the radio. We told a carer and she said “oh its his sleep time he is just whinging” hmmmm not the answer I wanted to hear.

    The second place was much better. We got such a better vibe from it and it just felt better.

    Also we actually put our son in BEFORE ( a good couple of weeks) I returned to work. We built up gradually as well so baby and you have time to adjust to the new routine, plus if you or baby freak out int he early stages you can easily go grab baby πŸ™‚

    In Australia some links for mums to check out are:
    http://www.familydaycare.com.au/
    http://www.ncac.gov.au/

    Reply

  2. Literary Feline
    Jan 15, 2011 @ 20:43:22

    It’s such a difficult decision to make, isn’t it? There are many of the larger daycare facilities I would trust over certain home care facilities. It really depends on what you find in your research and visits, as you discovered. I don’t think I would have been pleased with the one facility you visited either.

    Putting your child in daycare before you go back to work is a great idea and one I would recommend as well. It wouldn’t work for me, however, given that my child won’t be going to daycare at the time I return to work. My husband is taking family leave when I return to work and then when he goes back, my parents will be taking over for a short while. Unfortunately, that is in part because the daycare home we will be using will not have an opening right away and so we had to make other arrangements. The other home we really liked was in a similar situation as were most of the other ones we looked at. Timing wise, it’s just not feasible. 😦

    Reply

  3. Rainbowg
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 22:59:34

    Yeah, I think getting in asap is very important, especially for day care facilities. There a few facilities that will only take applications post birth… but then on the other end of the scale, one council run facility I wanted to apply for had a 2 year waiting period… before many have even thought about having a child!!!!

    Reply

  4. stacybuckeye
    Feb 06, 2011 @ 12:31:21

    Great questions! I’m a stay-at home mom, but I am trying to find a place that will take Gage for half a day or a day a week. I was considering it and then we all got sick and I decided that I really need to work on a back up plan! Wendy, it’s great that you, your husband, and then your parents will all get your one-on-one time with your little girl πŸ™‚

    Reply

  5. Trackback: It Takes a Village « toyboxtales

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