Every parent, at some time, needs child care. Whether for an occasional evening out or a 40-plus-hour work week, finding the right care isn’t easy. Before starting your quest for child care, ask yourself the following questions:
- What size environment are you looking for?
- What care arrangement is most convenient for your schedule?
- How important is flexibility?
- How much emphasis do you want on social and educational stimulation, in addition to a nurturing environment?
- What can you afford?
- What type of commitment are you looking for?
For help in locating child care in your area, contact the state agency that oversees day-care licensing. Many cities, states and private, non-profit social service agencies also run referral services for child care.
Day-care centers usually supervise 10 or more children of different ages in a school-like atmosphere. Family day-care providers care for about six children, often including the caregiver’s own children, in a home. A nanny cares for your child in your home.
Cost is often a significant factor in selecting child care. Generally, family day care is the least expensive, although rates vary greatly and depend on the services offered. Individual care, whether live-in or not, is typically the most expensive, while day-care centers vary depending on the age of the child, the services provided and the location of the center.
With all child care, the top priority should be the safety and well-being of your child. Look for a caregiver with experience, someone who will respect your views and with whom you feel comfortable. Spend time researching the options available in your area. Arrange to visit day-care centers and family day-care providers. If you feel comfortable with your child-care arrangement, your family and your child will be happier and better adjusted and so will you.