Childcare Options Part 2 – Finding The Right Fit
Preparing yourself for work or back to school is hard. We get it. Add in searching for childcare options and the stress-o-meter can hit overload. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with either too many or not enough childcare options we hope this post will help. But first, stop and take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat. Now keep reading.
We want to build on our previous post about all the different types of childcare options available with some practical information to help you narrow down your search and find the best fit for you.
Begin your search by asking friends, family, co-workers and other people you trust for recommendations based on their experience. Another simple way to get feedback is to post a message on social media. Friends are quick to give input and the information you receive will most likely be unfiltered, giving you an honest review of providers.
Also, start doing your own research online. Look up day care providers close to your home as well as close to your work or school. You can also check up on these facilities to see if they’re a good fit for you based on the type and size of the operation. Do they post reviews online? Do they have pictures and staff bios? By taking a little bit of time with your online search, you can narrow your options down in no time.
Once you have narrowed your options down to 2-4 childcare providers you’ll want to meet them face to face for an interview. Call ahead and schedule time to talk with either the day care director or individual day care provider. Do some prep work prior to going to the interview and have a written list of questions you want answered with you at the meeting. This is the time to gather specific information, so be sure to ask a lot of questions like:
- What is the cost and are there hidden fees?
- What is the payment schedule – weekly, monthly?
- Are they licensed?
- How do they handle meals?
- Are there scheduled naps?
- What is their philosophy of discipline? Education?
- How do they report incidents, accidents or illness to you?
- What is the policy for sick days?
And this one is important- ask for references. Be sure to get names and numbers of other moms with kids there and call them! Ask them about their experience and take some time to see if the provider is a good fit. Remember your child will be there every day, so this is time well spent. If they can’t give you references mark them off the list and move on to the next provider.
Take a Tour
While you are interviewing, ask for a tour of the facility if it is a childcare center. If it is someone’s personal home, ask to view where your child will be during the day. Is it clean and well organized? Do they have a specific area of the home dedicated to play and rest? Are the playgrounds safe? Where will meals be provided? Do they have their credentials posted? If it is an in-home facility, do they have the maximum number of children? How do the kids get along? At this point you’re trying to get a feel for if this is a good fit for you and your baby. If you don’t feel good about something you see, then ask more questions to narrow down your search.
Think It Over
After you have taken the time for the interview, give yourself a few days before making a decision if you can. Think about your options and weigh the pros and cons. Talk to friends and family about each option and get feedback. Once you’ve decided, make sure to get all of your paperwork (i.e. physicals, shot records, forms if you are qualified for government assistance, and releases) signed and returned to them so that there are no glitches on your first day. You want your focus will be on transitioning your child that day, not on logistics.