Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Deciding on Childcare Arrangements

By Christina VanGinkel

You have waited and waited for baby to arrive, and once here, you have been telling yourself that there is no way you could go out to dinner, let alone back to work or some other activity that would require you to leave baby home with a sitter. Now, reality is setting in, bills need paying, and dinner out away from baby is actually starting to sound good. Problem now is how exactly you find a reliable caregiver or daycare center. To start, it will involve a lot of research and determination, but it can be done. Determining what type of facility or caregiver you want is the first step in discovering the ideal situation for both baby and you. Begin this all-important task by asking yourself the following questions, along with any others that you feel are important to your personal situation.

If you are you looking for a caregiver to come into your home on a part time or fulltime basis, consider if they will live-in, if so, is there adequate space in your home. Consider also the impact such an arrangement would have on your household in general.
Also, you will need to find out what state, local, or federal rules apply to such a situation, an do you intend for them to be solely caregivers to your child or children, or do you expect them to perform other duties, such as laundry and dishes?

If a daycare center is more along the lines of what you are looking for, consider things such as how many children per adult are there, and do not rely completely on the law, as a smaller ratio per teacher is always better. How far away the center is from your home and work should be considered, and what their rules are if your child becomes ill while in their care, or if they have accommodations for mildly sick children. This can be important if your job situation allows for very limited time off, except for the direst circumstances. Is the place clean? Is it too clean? By this, I mean is it so ordered that you wonder if they let the children play at all. Look beyond the space and examine the contents, such as if the toys are reasonably new and taken care of? If your workplace has daycare, be sure to check it out, and find out if your employer offers any bonuses where childcare is concerned, such as allowing infants in the workspace for the earliest months. You would be surprised at how many places of employment are becoming more agreeable to such situations, especially if your office is secluded from others.

Whether you decide on a caregiver in home, or at a daycare center, ask for, and check out references. Follow up on every one, and if you feel misgivings anywhere along the way, do not employ them. First impressions should carry weight, as much as second, third, and so on impressions. Even if you feel confident in an arrangement early on, then change your mind; do not hesitate to change caregivers or centers. There is n nothing more important than the care of your child.

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