The first few weeks after having a baby are amazing, scary, and beautiful. But, before you know it, it’s time to go back to work. For many families, staying home to raise their child is not an option. If your situation is like mine, neither side of the families live nearby. Nor would they be available to help out if they were near because they have to work too. So that leaves the daunting task of searching for child care. Starting the search for child care can be intimidating. It seems like nowadays, there’s a new child care center popping up on each corner. Where do you begin? What do you look for? How do I know that my child will be safe here? Don’t worry, I got you. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your child care search:
- Find out if there is a child care resource and referral agency in your area. Your local CCR&R should be the first place you look for childcare. Usually they are designed to have a database of all the licensed centers and family child care providers in their service delivery area.
- Find out if your state has standards or a rating system for quality care. Most states have basic licensing rules for child care programs around health and safety. But standards or a rating system, pertain to the academic side of child care. If your state does have a rating system, that will aid you in determining whether your child will receive the quality of education you are seeking.
- Speaking of licensing rules, look up the programs’ licensing reports. Licensing reports are open to the public. Check with the department of jobs and family services in your state for how you can get that information. As stated earlier, the licensing rules usually are centered around making sure the center implement cleanliness and safety policies.
- Visit the centers or family child care program. If you call the program, they will want to set up a tour with you. The best way to get a true picture of their daily operations is to pop up.
- Last but not least, ask the people you know for referrals. The other suggestions can give you insight to the academic nature of the child care search. However, talking to people you are familiar with about the child care programs their children attend will give provide more perspective into the customer service and relationship side. They will be able to speak more to the professionalism of the staff and the day to day operations.
Also important to note; you may have noticed that I referred to family child care programs quite a bit in the tips. A family child care program is a program that is operated out of someone’s home. The dynamics in a family child care program are quite different from those in a child care center. The number of children being cared for is lower, which means more one on one care for your child. The cost is quite lower in a family child care program, as well. However, depending on where you live, they may not be regulated as strictly as child care centers. Each state is different in their laws concerning family child care programs. Be sure to check with your state to determine whether or not there are licensing rules around family child care programs before deciding between that and a child care center.
I hope you find these tips helpful. For once, I’m not just making this shit up. I actually do this for a living. Happy searching!