How to Find Good Child Care and the Importance of Good Child Care

In a perfect world we would be able to spend every moment with our children and never have to leave them with anyone new. But in the real world, we have to work and someone has to watch our kids. While the teenage girl down the street may be an inexpensive choice, there are many worthwhile reasons to seek out quality childcare.

In this age of Facebook, iPods and cell phone texts, it is hard to find a quality babysitter that will actually engage and interact with our children while we are away. Regardless if your child is five months old or five years, it is our responsibility as parents to provide our children with an enriching and safe environment for them to learn and play.

There are several popular options for childcare that you should consider before making a decision. Local laws regulate commercial day care centers, in-home day cares, and nannies. It is important to check with your local Department of Human Resources or child protective service agency to find out what the licensing requirements are in your area. While you will certainly encounter child care providers that skirt these rules, for the safety of your children only choose a licensed care provider if such licensing is required by law. Licensed providers have their home or day care center inspected regularly, ensuring that your child is in a safe and healthy environment with qualified professional caregivers.

Commercial day care centers are run similar to schools. They have set schedules in which the children play, eat, learn and nap. These schedules are necessary because of the number of children enrolled in each class. Classes are divided by age or development. The caregiver to child ratio is generally determined by the legal guidelines set by the state, but tends to be higher than you will find with in-home daycare centers.

In-home day cares are run from the caregiver’s home, allowing her to take several children of various age groups at one time. In-home day cares are popular with families that have sibling groups they want to have be able to spend the day together, unlike in a commercial day care center where they would be in different classes due to age. In-home daycare centers are often a better choice for children with special needs or behavioral problems, as the low caregiver to child ratio allows the caregiver the ability to devote extra time or attention to a child that requires it.

Nannies are a popular option for people who have irregular schedules or prefer their children are cared for in their home environment. Always check the criminal record of any nanny you hire, or use the services of a professional nanny company that handles this for you. Nannies are available to live in your home or outside of your home, depending on your needs. Some parents find a live in nanny is an excellent choice because of the freedom it provides, while others find adjusting to a new member of the household and lack of privacy to be too stressful to be worthwhile.

From a financial standpoint a nanny will come with the highest price. Because she will work with only your children, you should expect to pay her a normal working wage per hour, or a salary by week if your schedule varies. In-home day cares are usually the least expensive option, but finding one with an opening can be challenging. Most families will find an in-home daycare provider they like when their children are young and keep their children with them throughout their elementary school years. Commercial day care centers provide an excellent opportunity all around, but keep in mind your child’s caregivers will change as employees come and go.

The most important thing to remember as you start searching for child care options is to go with your gut. If something seems off about any provider you meet, simply thank them for their time and walk away. It may take some work, but with some solid research you will find the right situation for your children’s needs.