Selecting Child Care

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When child care is needed, plan for it as early as possible. Child care may be provided by a spouse or significant other, a relative such as a grandmother, in a private home with unrelated adults, or in a child care center. Regardless of what child care option is selected, observe other children being cared for if possible and ask a number of questions. Some important questions are listed below.

  1. Does the child care meet your budget? What are the expectations in terms of payment, fees for late pick-up or early drop-off, how long is the price guaranteed, what is included in the price?
  2. Does the childcare meet your schedule?
  3. Are children supervised at all times? Will they ever be left in the care of anyone else including older children? Are they checked on when sleeping?
  4. How will your child be disciplined? Is physical discipline or corporal punishment used? Make your preferences for discipline known, even if the caregiver is a spouse or relative.
  5. What is the daily schedule? Is there time for play and individual attention?
  6. Is the setting clean? Are hands washed regularly, before eating and after toileting?
  7. Is the setting safe? Are toxic substances and poisons locked away and out of the reach of children, are sharp objects out of reach, are there pets, is furniture secured so it will not fall, are pools fenced and other containers of water out of the way, are play areas and toys free of safety hazards?
  8. How will sick days and vacations be managed?
  9. Are the activities responsive to the needs of your child? Are children fed healthy foods (find out what “healthy foods” means to the caregiver), is their opportunity for quiet time and rest, are there activities such as reading and crafts appropriate to your child’s age and stage of development. What are the rules regarding TV and Internet? Are toys clean and safe?
  10. How are children transported? Are safety seats and safety belts used appropriately? Where will children be transported to and when?
  11. Are caregivers safe? Are references and background checks performed on all staff? If the caregiver is a family member or friend, does the person have a history of abusive behavior toward children?

Arrange for back-up child care – plan in advance, who among your relatives, friends, and neighbors might be able to help you out in an emergency? Talk to each back-up option about when it would be ok to call on him or her and explain what you might need. It is best to identify more than one back-up option and have the contact information handy.


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