5 Ways to Find and Ensure Great Child Care

Written by: Janice Lopez

Most working parents want the very best child care they can afford, and for good reason. Research shows that the early years of childhood are the most important for brain development. Quality child care can help shape a child’s mind and prepare him or her to enter school with better math, language and social skills – skills that give a child a good start in school and in life!

With so much riding on the right choice, how can you be sure that the child care provider you choose will provide a safe, secure and stimulating environment that helps your child grow? The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) located in Chicago, which offers a Child Care Business Program and an annual Child Care Business Expo (on Saturday, June 1), has compiled these tips to help streamline your child care provider decision.

  1. Decide on the type of child care service that suits your needs. Your first decision should be the type of child care service. If a close relative or friend is not an option, you will need to consider in-home providers or center based child care. In addition to quality care, determine other factors that are important to you, such as location, the number of children being cared for, the type of meals offered, recreational and educational experiences and the discipline philosophy.
  2. Determine upfront how much you can afford.  Child care costs can be staggering, so know your budget and weigh the services provided against the cost. Some child care facilities charge a late fee; others offer a discount when caring for more than one child in a family. Parents who need help in paying for child care may qualify for a subsidy under the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
  3. Visit the child care facility or facilities before marking a decision. Consider taking your child or children with you to see their reaction and interaction with the provider. Go armed with a list of questions, such as the ratio of staff to kids, staff turnover, occurrences such as holidays when the facility is closed and if pets or smoking are allowed in the house or facility. If you see parents at the site ask them about their experiences with the provider.
  4. Fully vet the provider. Find out if the provider is licensed by the state and has any history of violations. Ask for at least three parent references and check them out thoroughly.
  5. Stay involved. Once your decision has been made, you should regularly visit and work with your child’s provider to send a strong signal that your child’s education, development and safety are important. Express any concerns you may have and follow up to see if they were addressed.

When your child has safe, loving and stimulating child care environment, you don’t need to worry. You can work at your job, knowing that your child is getting the quality care needed to be healthy, happy and safe.

What experiences have you had finding quality child care? What advice do you have for others on how they can succeed in their search for a good, trustworthy provider? 

For more information visit http://wbdc.org/Events/ChildCareBusinessExpo.aspx.

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 3:51 PM