Our goal is to provide information, ideas and support for working women who are also full-time mothers.

Friday, July 28, 2006

In-Home Daycare, pros and cons

Well I grew up in a daycare home (my mom still runs a daycare out of her home) and I bring my children to an in-home daycare. I love it overall, but it definitely has its pros and cons. My daycare is very small. There are three families, six kids total. They range in age from 4 months to 5 years. My provider raised four kids of her own and has been in the daycare business for 15 years. She loves my kids and that makes me feel good.

What I love
  • My kids have the same teacher from day one. There is no trauma of moving up from the infant room to the toddler room with new friends and a new teacher.
  • It's a much more intimate setting than some of the larger centers.
  • It's like a 2nd home for them--literally. Their daycare provider is really like a third grandma.
  • My two kids are there together--they're not separated because of age differences.
  • Their daycare friends are a wide variety of ages.
  • More kids often equals exposure to more illnesses (although I don't always buy that).

What I don't love

  • There's no backup plan. If my daycare provider is sick or on vacation, I'm stuck. Every once in awhile my husband can take off, but it's usually me.
  • There is often less structure, although this varies widely. My mom, for example, has a full preschool program and the day is very structured.
  • I think there's less opportunities for some of the experiences they'd get at a larger center--such as cool field trip, big art projects, etc. Again, this varies.

I think everybody has to decide what sort of setting is right for them. No one thing will be right for every family. No matter what, interview, interview, interview!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Finding a Good Daycare

Finding a daycare was terrifying for me. How do you know who you can trust your child with while you're gone? I grew up in a daycare home so I know I had some pretty high standards. First you have to decide what sort of situation you're looking for. Do you like the convenience, reliability and structure of a larger center? Or are you looking for something smaller in a home with more one on one care? There are pros and cons to both. I hope to talk a little about in-home daycares later in the week. And hopefully someone who uses a center can discuss that too. For now, I wanted to share with you some interview questions you can use when searching for that perfect daycare. You probably won't want to use ALL of these, but this should help you decide what's important. This list is also available in the "Daycare" section of our Bulletin Boards. Feel free to visit there and add more!
  1. What are your hours?
  2. What are your fees?
  3. Do you charge for days my child is absent due to illness or vacation?
  4. Do you have paid holidays? If so what ones?
  5. Do you have paid sick days? If so how many? How many days were you unable to provide care last year due to illness?
  6. Do you have paid vacations? How many days per year?
  7. Do you have a sub when you are not able to provide care, or am I expected to arrange for substitute care?
  8. How many years have you been a licensed provider?
  9. Are you certified in CPR and First Aid?
  10. What other continuing education classes have you taken in the past year or two?
  11. When you use a helper, who is your helper and what are his/her responsibilities? What is that person’s relationship to you?
  12. Do you ever leave your helper alone with the children?
  13. How many children do you have on a regular basis?
  14. What are their ages?
  15. Can you tell me what a typical day is in your daycare home?
  16. Can you show me where the children play during the day?
  17. Do the infants play in the same area?
  18. If so, how are they kept safe from toys meant for older children?
  19. How often and how much time are infants in playpens, walkers, or infant seats?
  20. Do you schedule an infants feedings or do you feed on demand?
  21. Do you hold infants when you feed them or do you prop bottles?
  22. Do you ever put an infant to bed with a bottle?
  23. How often do you change infants? Do you have some sort of schedule for this?
  24. Who is allowed to hold infants and toddlers?
  25. Where does an infant spend most of his/her day?
  26. Do you take the children outside? When and how often? Do you use sunscreen? Do we supply?
  27. How are the infants and other children supervised? (Both indoors and out)
  28. What are your illness policies?
  29. Under what circumstances do you call parents when their child becomes ill or injured?
  30. May I have a list of references? Do these include both past and present clients?
  31. Do you have a preschool program? Tell me about a typical preschoolers day.
  32. What sort of structured activities do you have for the children?
  33. How much free play time do the children have during a typical day?
  34. How much TV do the children watch while at your home?
  35. What programs do they watch?
  36. Do you have an upper age limit at which children attend your daycare?
  37. How often do you use a substitute?
  38. Do you let your families know when a substitute will be at your home?
  39. Who do you use for a substitute? Also ask about the relationship of the substitute.
  40. What is your plan in case of a personal emergency?
  41. Do you practice regular fire and storm drills? What is your fire drill and storm plan?
  42. How often do you read to the children?
  43. Do you mind if parents stop by occasionally without notice during your regular hours when their child is in your care?
  44. Where is your diaper changing area? May I see it? What do you use to sanitize it?
  45. Where will my child sleep? May I see the room and crib or playpen?
  46. How do you lay infants down when you put them to bed? Do you put blankets or toys in bed with the infant? (They should not--SIDS prevention)
  47. May I visit your daycare home during daycare before I decide to bring my child, just to see what it is like and to meet the children? (I would do so. You can tell a lot by the way the provider interacts with the kids and the way they interact with her.)
  48. Do you ever transport the children in a motor vehicle? If so, when? How are they secured in the vehicle?
  49. Do you go on field trips? Where, when, and how are the kids supervised on these?
  50. Where do the children play outdoors? May I see this area?
  51. Do you have any pets? Where are they kept? Have they bitten or scratched any child in the past year? Where do you keep their food, water, litter box?
  52. Has any child been injured while at your home in the past year where they required medical attention?
  53. If she has stairs, ask her about gates and how they are secured.
  54. If you might want to nurse during the day, ask if that would be possible. Even if you think not, I would ask, just in case you change your mind.
  55. Do I furnish baby care products or do you (baby wipes, diaper ointment, bottles, bibs) You might want to find out what products she uses.
  56. When and how do you toilet train. Hopefully, this would be when you decide it is appropriate, but not all providers do this. Some are every strict and scheduled, like every child gets trained at two. You want a feel for whether she is relaxed or stringent about toileting also. What does she do when a child has an accident during the day?
  57. When and how do you discipline?
  58. Values are important to us. What values are important to you?
  59. Do you pray in your home or discuss faith (like at Christmas)?
  60. When and where do children nap?
  61. What is your nap policy?
  62. Are there any other people (and relationship, ie husband, boyfriend, child ?)who are around the daycare children and would interact or discipline in any way.
  63. If married, be sure to ask to meet spouse.
  64. Can we see a copy of your contract?
  65. Who furnishes diapers? Formula?
  66. Are you on the food program?
  67. Do you provide any meals or snacks? What ones?
  68. Please provide menus for the last couple days meals. (so you can get an idea of her knowledge about nutrition and what is important to her in meal planning)