Whether you’re heading back to work after a mat leave or you’ve moved to a new city, there are lots of factors to consider before your search begins, such as your schedule, location (and how much you can afford.
Next, consider your parenting style; you’ll want a caregiver who shares your childcare philosophies and goals or you could run into problems. If you’d prefer to send your child to a place that’s licensed and government regulated, run by professionals and one that offers an age-appropriate curriculum with daily routines, then childcare centers might be right for you. If you’d rather take your child to a caregiver’s house where an intimate and small group setting is encouraged, think about home childcare. And if you’re looking for help with your kids and some daily chores, you may opt for a live-in nanny.
Depending on your child’s age, childcare centers can be anything from a nursery school to a before-and-after-school program. The way to start investigating this is by calling a handful of potential centers and ask how long they’ve been operating, if they’re licensed, the age range of the children in their care and the ratio of staff to children.
You should also ask about availability. Are they accepting new clients? What are their qualifications? How many adults are onsite? Depending on age of the kids and where you live, you could be looking at $800 to $1,000 per month.
Follow up your phone calls by scheduling a tour, or better yet, drop in unannounced to see how the centre functions. Make sure there are fire detectors in the place and that the kids look content. Are they attentive, disciplined and pleasant? What will they do if your kid gets sick?
Go through a private home-daycare agency to find a placement for your child in a private home or conduct the search yourself. No matter how you choose to do it, you’ll want to look for someone who promotes a supportive learning environment in their home.
You should also ask about the number of children in the program, hours, health policies (television rules, sample menus, daily schedules and references.
Be prepared for the caregiver to have her own questionnaire, says Bernard. She’ll ask for parent contact information, medical history, favorite toys, allergies, diet restrictions, emergency contacts and who is permitted to pick the children up. The more permission the place requires the better it probably is as they are trying to protect your kid!