Kids Connection – Looking for childcare?

Kids Connection article
May 25, 2011

Looking for childcare?

Where do you begin?  Finding the right person for your child and for you can be made easier by following a few simple steps.  Determining your needs, and those of your child, is important.  Understanding your options and how to best evaluate the best match is also key.  Knowing what questions to ask and what answers you expect will help you determine what is best and give you greater peace of mind.

First consider your needs and your child’s needs.  Determine your schedule and if you need child care the same time each week.   Consider the age of your child and what support they need in their care and development.  Is location an important factor?  How much do you have budgeted?  Be clear about your expectations; what is flexible and what is not.

There are many options for childcare in Chaffee County.  A list of licensed providers is available on the Chaffee County Early Childhood Council website, www.ccecc.org.  You may get an idea of childcare services from friends or co-workers.  Once you have determined some options, consider making initial phone calls to share your needs and see if the childcare provider is a good possibility.  Schedule a time to visit to ask more in-depth questions and to see the place and the people in person.  Stay at least 30 minutes to allow for a good observation and ask for a tour of the entire facility/home.  This will help you get a better understanding if the provider will meet the needs of your child.  You may consider taking your child to see how well they respond; understanding, of course, that young children may be shy in a new environment.

Asking good questions can help you best understand if your needs and expectations will be met.  A list of questions is available at www.ccecc.org, which is also available in the Council’s “Raising Children Made Easier” Brochure, available at the Salida Regional Library.  Questions to consider include:

– Do you prefer a child care center or a setting in the home?
– Does your child need a structured environment or something more informal?
– When you are visiting the child care provider, what is going on around you? What are the interactions with the children?
– Are there age appropriate activities, toys, and equipment?
– Are there safety concerns?
– What is the policy for illness?
– What are the discipline policies?
– What transportation is used and when? Are car seats available?
– Are lunches and snacks provided by the parent or provider?  What food is served?
– Is the program licensed?  For how many children?
– What is the provider’s training/experience?  When was their last inspection and what did that inspection show?
– Talk with other parents who are using the facility to get their opinions.

Keep in mind that each parent’s and child’s needs are different. What is important to one parent may not be important to you.  Once you make your decision, continue to stay involved to make sure it is the best place for you and your child.

Lezlie Burkley is the marketing coordinator for Chaffee County Early Childhood Council.  For more tips on raising young children visit the Council’s website at www.ccecc.org or call 530-5374.