First,a Family Day Care is a private home where kids are cared for. The parents drop off their kids and pick them up on a schedule. Some homes even have kids bussed to them. Most often the caregiver is a “stay at home” mother trying to supplement her income and allow her kids to enjoy
playmates at the same time. In some cases,the provider started out as the “stay at home” mom but enjoyed the experience enough to make a career of it.
Many states regulate and license these homes. The licensing requires the provider to take first aid,CPR and continue education courses that apply to Early Childhood Development. The licenses are not only for the caregiver but her home too. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are required,as well as, a safe play area inside and out.
Where do you look for day care homes? Ask your pediatrician ,neighbors and friends if they know anyone who does day care. Nothing better than recommendations from satisfied customers and pediatricians talk to lots of moms! Don’t over look new providers in favor of experienced ones. Choose the ones to interview using your intuition. Sometimes a woman of your same age with kids is who you might enjoy. Yes,you need to LIKE the provider! Chances are you’ll be involved with her for many years on an almost daily basis. Chemistry is the first measure.
Secondly, visit the home during day care hours. Watch the demeanor of the kids there. See if they appear affectionate with the caregiver. The home and play area should meet your safety assessment but tidiness should not be the most important consideration. Cleanliness and tidiness are two different things. A flawlessly tidy home just may indicate that the caregiver spends less time with the kids in favor of order. Again, trust those instincts!
Have questions planned in advance. Bring a check list if you want to.
Why do you do day care? How should I pay you? Do I pay if my child is absent? What should my child come with? Are meals provided? (ask for a couple of popular meals that are served.) Where will my child nap? What is your policy for discipline? What is your policy for accepting slightly ill kids? Will you be giving a year-end total for my taxes? Is there an added fee for a late pick up?
Of course, if you have any policies of your own about what your child does or eats, express them at the interview. This is the provider’s HOME and you have to know if her home is enough like your own. When it comes to religious holidays and TV viewing,etc., you and the caregiver must be on the same page!
Last, ask what fun activities are available and what skills will be taught while your child is in their care. You will be able to tell, right there, if this caregiver is a baby sitter or an Early Childhood teacher. Their enthusiasm about their
curriculum is a give away!
Family Day Care can be a very comfortable fit into your young family’s life. Trust your instincts, as much as, the provider’s credentials!