One of the hardest decisions for any working parent to make is whether or not to send their children to daycare. That tough decision is often followed up with wondering how in the world you’re supposed to know which daycare is best for them. Every parent worries about safety and quality when it comes to choosing a daycare, so when making your choice it is best to start with the basics.
One of the biggest problems associated with daycare is, of course, price. Childcare is more expensive now than ever, and some parents end up in unfortunate situations because they believe they cannot afford better or safer options. If you’re worried about adequately financing daycare, be sure to check with your state-specific department of children and family services. There are several programs in each state that offer childcare assistance for families that qualify at certain income levels. The family services state department can also give you a list of certified home and licensed childcare facilities that have been screened for safety and quality care.
When deciding whether or not to send your kids to an in-home daycare or a larger registered center it’s important to consider a few factors:
- Your personal work schedule
- Social habits you would like your child to develop
- Your comfort level
- How a facility is monitored
- Age division
- Financial commitment and flexiblity
If you work untraditional hours, a state-registered, in-home daycare may be the way to go. Not only do individuals who run centers out of their homes have more flexibility with their hours, but they can usually negotiate pricing more easily than larger daycare facilities. Secondly, an in-home daycare will expose your child to other kids of various ages rather than them being placed into an age-specific room. If you do decide to go the in-home daycare route, don’t hesitate to run a background check on the primary caregiver even if they present you with a state license. Knowing who is watching your child and being aware of their history is a right you have as a parent. Peace of mind and confidence in a caretaker are of the upmost importance, especially when it comes to in-home daycares that are not necessarily held accountable for their caretaking activities on a daily basis by registered, government monitored professionals.
If you do work traditional hours and feel more comfortable knowing your child is being monitored under strict regulations, a larger daycare facility may be your best option. Large facilities normally operate on a 6am-6pm basis and provide state-certified meals to all children. While you may not have flexibility in pricing, you will have the peace of mind that comes form knowing that your child’s daily achievements will be recorded and carefully tracked. Children in these facilities are typically split up by age and there is a great focus on reaching age-appropriate milestones as a group.
Whatever path you decide to take, don’t ever be afraid to ask tough questions. Whether in-home or public, these facilities are entrusted with protecting the loves of your life when you have to be away. Take the time to make an informed and educated decision – you will not regret it.
Jennah and Asha