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Licensed home daycare, or unlicensed babysitter?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm in a situation where I absolutely love my job, but the cost of what I am paying for childcare (which is the norm of where I am at) takes up a huge amount (at least 3/4) of my paycheck. My child care provider is the least expensive licensed person that I could find... but I am playing with the possibility of getting an unlicensed babysitter so that I would not be spending so much on childcare. I am thinking of getting a stay at home mom with a child of a similiar age to one of my children, but I am unsure about that... we have no family or friends locally who can watch my children for me, not even for a little while. What are your thoughts on licensed verses unlicensed?
post #2 of 25
I feel so lucky to live in the area that I do, because child care isn't nearly as expensive as other areas. I can totally understand the need to cut down on expenses!

I am wondering if you have thought through what you would do if something did not go well in the unlicensed home. The nice thing about licensed/registered care, is that you have officials to go to if there is a violation. In unlicensed I'm not sure you have any recourse other than removing your child. That said, perhaps if you can check the references of this person and speak to several other people who have used her, you might feel enough confidence to move forward. I would ask her though, why she has chosen to go the unlicensed route.
post #3 of 25
One thing i definitely look for is if they have child abuse clearance as well as background check.....I have used 2 unlicensed babysitters for my son who is 3and 1 licensed and actually for quality of time, attention and love it was better with the unlicensed! Also I always ask for more references too......
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MPJJJ View Post
I am thinking of getting a stay at home mom with a child of a similiar age to one of my children, but I am unsure about that...
I thought the same thing when we first needed care for DS, around age one. I did not have good luck with finding an informal care situation for him, however. I advertised on AP lists and I did find some women who were initially interested, but none of them wanted to do anything near fulltime, like not even 30 hours a week. They only wanted to do occasional or like one day a week. Really, they didn't want to do it at all, they just needed money, and this came across quite obviously. Second, it was NOT cheaper than center care. Around where I live center care will cost you around $2-3 / hour, based on fulltime, whereas the moms I contacted who were willing to watch my child in their home wanted more like nanny rates (which I thought was slightly ridiculous -- if I could afford a nanny, I'd have one come to MY house...). Finally -- with the woman I did end up leaving DS with off and on for a few months -- it became obvious from some comments she made that she really looked down on me for working. I forget the exact things she said but it was along the lines of her little boy being so lucky to be with mama all day, and it was so sad for my son that he would see her son nurse and my son would have to have a bottle (of EBM, give me a break, she had no idea how freaking hard I worked at pumping that for him!). Anyway I really did not need the condescension on top of already being heartbroken about being away from DS during the workday.
post #5 of 25
It is possible to find an unlicensed person who will be as good as the cheap licensed person, but if you go that road I think you should try for someone without other children or with only one or two other children to watch who will bring the children with her into your home so you have some say over the rules rather than in her home where she is the boss and if you want to bring your kids to her you put up with her discipline style. If she has stayed home until now with her kids she can easily go back to it whereas a person who has been in the work force and is now able to bring her child to work may have more incentive to keep the job because not many jobs let you bring your child.

Have you checked into the state subsidy for daycare? Even if they only cover a quarter of what your child care costs you that would still be a lot and it may allow you to keep your child in a stable child care situation.
post #6 of 25
The issue I have with unlicensed providers is safety, consistency and expectations. Before going with someone unlicensed I would do what the previous posters suggested which is a VERY thorough background check for the provider and anyone else living in the home that will have regular access to your child. You can do these checks yourselves but the are fairly intensive. My suggestion would be that once you have gone through the interview process and narrowed down your candidates is to have a PI do the checks for you.

Also you will want to make sure that you have some kind of formal work agreement. In it you want to outline all of your expectations. ie:

1) what are the expected hours?
2) how will you each handle sick time?
3) how will you handle time off (vacations, holidays, etc). Will they be paid or unpaid?
4) what are your expectations regarding meals? outside time? TV? outings? car trips?
5) how will he/she be paid? Will you withhold taxes and file returns? Will she/he be paid "gross" with the expectation that she/he will handle their own taxes?
6) If she can drive your child around will you have auto coverage in case there is an accident during work hours?

It sounds like a lot of work but you need to be absolutely confident in you choice. Good luck!!
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday View Post
I thought the same thing when we first needed care for DS, around age one. I did not have good luck with finding an informal care situation for him, however. I advertised on AP lists and I did find some women who were initially interested, but none of them wanted to do anything near fulltime, like not even 30 hours a week. They only wanted to do occasional or like one day a week. Really, they didn't want to do it at all, they just needed money, and this came across quite obviously. Second, it was NOT cheaper than center care. Around where I live center care will cost you around $2-3 / hour, based on fulltime, whereas the moms I contacted who were willing to watch my child in their home wanted more like nanny rates (which I thought was slightly ridiculous -- if I could afford a nanny, I'd have one come to MY house...). Finally -- with the woman I did end up leaving DS with off and on for a few months -- it became obvious from some comments she made that she really looked down on me for working. I forget the exact things she said but it was along the lines of her little boy being so lucky to be with mama all day, and it was so sad for my son that he would see her son nurse and my son would have to have a bottle (of EBM, give me a break, she had no idea how freaking hard I worked at pumping that for him!). Anyway I really did not need the condescension on top of already being heartbroken about being away from DS during the workday.
This was also my experience before we decided to out dd in a daycare center. The AP mamas I located seemed like they were more concerned with their finances and their child's comfort then being a good care giver.

I am often amazed when people suggest finding a Mama with a kid, even here in Maine the cost can be $12-15 an hour to get someone whose bringing their kid to work. :

Shay
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebottle View Post
myself, i would go with a private person that i felt comfortable with over a licensed daycare that i didn't know much about. for me, that would mean that either i knew them well or had done a pretty thorough background and reference check, and got good vibes from them and their home and the way they were around my kid, aaaaand whose policies were ok with me. so it's a bit complicated i guess, but i just don't think licensing covers all the things that i actually care about. a licensed daycare can be run by someone who doesn't care at all and lets the kids watch tv all day and feeds them crap, so while the knives will be secure i'm not sure that licensing it the end-all be-all..

good luck-
xoa
I feel the same. I have used 2 unlicensed and currently 1 licensed daycare provider. I feel all have adequately cared for my child/ren regardless of licensing status. I do think that if you choose an unlicensed provider, it would be helpful to request background checks and CPR/First aid certifications.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by shayinme View Post
This was also my experience before we decided to out dd in a daycare center. The AP mamas I located seemed like they were more concerned with their finances and their child's comfort then being a good care giver.
And why shouldn't they, you know? I mean I think it's a reasonable POV, that they only want to do childcare if it's convenient and there's a worthwhile pay-off and it's not short-changing their own child. But there was just a pretty bad dynamic in our situation, where the provider seemed to feel she was caring for my child as a favor, and I felt like I was paying an arm and a leg for substandard care. I got over the idea that a personal, informal relationship was somehow better than "institutional" care pretty quick.

Quote:
I am often amazed when people suggest finding a Mama with a kid, even here in Maine the cost can be $12-15 an hour to get someone whose bringing their kid to work. :
We actually pay our back-up nanny, who brings her daughter along, $10/hour, which I think is on the high side for where we live. She is so worth it though. She has a lot of child care/nanny experience, and she has the kids active and doing stuff all day. They do a lot of art activities, ride around the neighborhood on trikes, play at the playground, etc. DS always crashes by 7 pm on days she's been at our house. It's just such a stark comparison to situations where I've dropped DS off at someone's house to more than likely watch TV or otherwise self-entertain all day, and if he's taken out, it's just running around town on errands mom needs to run. I don't begrudge SAHMs combining a little childcare with their day-to-day life, but it is so NOT nannying, and the expectation that it should be compensated as such just makes me nuts.
post #10 of 25
As others have said, a good quality (and qualified) unlicensed person is likely to be at least as expensive as the licensed center. Often it's because the unlicensed sitter is only caring for 1 or 2 children, and so in order to make a living, the rate per child must be higher. DS was in a nanny share with an unlicensed provider for a year, and it was MUCH more expensive than his current, licensed care, which has more kids (and caregivers, but the ratio is still higher). Both have been fabulous experiences, so I don't really have an opinion on the licensed/ unlicensed thing... either way, you've got to do your homework as far as background checks, first aid training, etc.

I HATE that so much of our childcare decision-making in this country has to be based on cost, and that most of us have to use unreasonable portions of our paycheck to secure quality care... uh oh, I'm headed down a political road here, so I'd better shut up.

I hope you find a situation that works for you and your little one!
post #11 of 25
If you do decide to go with an unlicenced provider, I would draw up a contract that you both sign.

The lady I had taking care of my son was very good with him, but we had some issues with sick days. Initially I said that if she or her daughter was sick, I would just stay home because I had sick days accumulated at work. As this was only for 4 months, I didn't think it would be an issue at all. It ended up that she worked 71 of the 85 days I paid her for. Because I'd said it wouldn't be a problem, I felt like I had to pay her for those days. She also occasionally left DS with her husband who I was really not comfortable with.

Think of everything under the sun that you want/could happen and then put it in writing.
post #12 of 25
Well, I hope that I don't get flamed, but here it goes....you get what you pay for.
I am a in home licensed daycare provider-have been for 13 years now, and what I don't understand and I will never understand is why parents are always looking for the "cheap" daycares? Isn't it important to you to have the very best looking out for your child-but yet, the #1 question that I get-right off the bat, is HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE? Hmmm, if I was the one looking for care for my child there are MANY different more important questions that I would be asking

I find it so hard to believe that people don't think about daycare costs before having kids-kids are expensive plain and simple-no two ways around it.

If people are really having a hard time affording daycare there are programs out there to help parents! You don't have to be poor to qualify for them either. Please contact either your city's daycare licensing agency, or a child care resource and referral agency-they are there to help you as parents find QUALITY and AFFORDABLE childcare. When you breakdown how much a daycare provider makes it's not much, belive me!
For example, I charge $75 a week for part time care-out of that I feed the child breakfast and lunch, we do daily art projects, we have an awesome outdoor play area, I pay for annual CPR and First aid classes, 25+ hours of continuing education classes a year, the list goes on and on and for that $75 you get 5 hours of care a day, break that down and it's only $3 an hour, yet I still have people complain that it's too much money...come on people-it's expensive to raise kids!!!!!!!
And, yes, I do consider myself to be quite good at what I do-I care about the kids I have in my home everyday and while I understand a parents concerns about $, I find it hard to sympathize with a parent who would rather spend their hard earned money on a fancy car and eating out than pay a daycare provider a decent weekly rate.

Ok, sorry about that huge rant, it just gets to me when people complain about the cost of childcare and blame it on the supposedly "money hungry providers".....
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday View Post
And why shouldn't they, you know? I mean I think it's a reasonable POV, that they only want to do childcare if it's convenient and there's a worthwhile pay-off and it's not short-changing their own child. But there was just a pretty bad dynamic in our situation, where the provider seemed to feel she was caring for my child as a favor, and I felt like I was paying an arm and a leg for substandard care. I got over the idea that a personal, informal relationship was somehow better than "institutional" care pretty quick.



We actually pay our back-up nanny, who brings her daughter along, $10/hour, which I think is on the high side for where we live. She is so worth it though. She has a lot of child care/nanny experience, and she has the kids active and doing stuff all day. They do a lot of art activities, ride around the neighborhood on trikes, play at the playground, etc. DS always crashes by 7 pm on days she's been at our house. It's just such a stark comparison to situations where I've dropped DS off at someone's house to more than likely watch TV or otherwise self-entertain all day, and if he's taken out, it's just running around town on errands mom needs to run. I don't begrudge SAHMs combining a little childcare with their day-to-day life, but it is so NOT nannying, and the expectation that it should be compensated as such just makes me nuts.
My experience has been that of SAHM's wanting to call themselves nannies and basically acting as if watching your kid is a favor at best or imposition at worst. I understand wanting to stay with one's own child and earn extra money but when it comes with a crappy attitude then it sucks.

Shay
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotsakids View Post
Well, I hope that I don't get flamed, but here it goes....you get what you pay for.
I am a in home licensed daycare provider-have been for 13 years now, and what I don't understand and I will never understand is why parents are always looking for the "cheap" daycares? Isn't it important to you to have the very best looking out for your child-but yet, the #1 question that I get-right off the bat, is HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE? Hmmm, if I was the one looking for care for my child there are MANY different more important questions that I would be asking

I find it so hard to believe that people don't think about daycare costs before having kids-kids are expensive plain and simple-no two ways around it.

If people are really having a hard time affording daycare there are programs out there to help parents! You don't have to be poor to qualify for them either. Please contact either your city's daycare licensing agency, or a child care resource and referral agency-they are there to help you as parents find QUALITY and AFFORDABLE childcare. When you breakdown how much a daycare provider makes it's not much, belive me!
For example, I charge $75 a week for part time care-out of that I feed the child breakfast and lunch, we do daily art projects, we have an awesome outdoor play area, I pay for annual CPR and First aid classes, 25+ hours of continuing education classes a year, the list goes on and on and for that $75 you get 5 hours of care a day, break that down and it's only $3 an hour, yet I still have people complain that it's too much money...come on people-it's expensive to raise kids!!!!!!!
And, yes, I do consider myself to be quite good at what I do-I care about the kids I have in my home everyday and while I understand a parents concerns about $, I find it hard to sympathize with a parent who would rather spend their hard earned money on a fancy car and eating out than pay a daycare provider a decent weekly rate.

Ok, sorry about that huge rant, it just gets to me when people complain about the cost of childcare and blame it on the supposedly "money hungry providers".....

I most certainly don't think childcare providers are money hungry at all, and I know that good care costs. At the same time I will admit that when I was looking for childcare that getting cost information was a question I asked early on. Frankly its a matter of knowing what I can and cannot afford, and while there is childcare assistance available I know its not an option where I live as my income is too high.

I am guessing that the reason people ask about the cost is because they know what they can and cannot afford and if you are $200 a week and they can only afford $150 a week, is it really worth the time and energy to interview you?

Kids are expensive and while we most certainly factored in daycare costs into the equation when we were TTC, I ended up losing my jobs right after discovering I was pregnant and we are still recovering almost 2 years later.

I do understand your vent though.

Shay
post #15 of 25
[QUOTE=shayinme;7538687]I most certainly don't think childcare providers are money hungry at all, and I know that good care costs. At the same time I will admit that when I was looking for childcare that getting cost information was a question I asked early on. Frankly its a matter of knowing what I can and cannot afford, and while there is childcare assistance available I know its not an option where I live as my income is too high.

I am guessing that the reason people ask about the cost is because they know what they can and cannot afford and if you are $200 a week and they can only afford $150 a week, is it really worth the time and energy to interview you?



I made the mistake of going through the whole interview process and then at the end come to find out she was 300 a week! Too bad because she was awesome, but i had to tell her I am sorry I think the most important for me is how many kids they watch. We pay a little more now for an unlicensed sitter but she only watches my son and then in the fall she is going to take another child but no more than 2 at a time....i really like that.....I don't mind if sitters let my child watch tv (no more than 2 shows or 1 movie) and my son still takes a 3 hour nap so i know she's able to get some things done then...

We pay 120 for 4 days of care, which i find a little higher than what we used to pay for 1 week.
post #16 of 25
OP, would there really be such a price difference between licensed and unlicensed? DD is in both here in Portland OR and they cost the same.

Licensed daycare has a big advantage -- there's someone there every day. If you *have to* be at work * day in and day out, that kind of reliability is worth a lot.

And it is extreeemely hard in my experience to find a reliable "babysitter."
post #17 of 25
I used both, at different times. My experience has generally been that unlicensed in-home providers are quite a bit cheaper - maybe roughly 75% of the price of a center, with much variation. With a big chain center, you have a lot more administration and overhead to deal with, as well as advertising and franchisee costs for many.

When I started back to school, I found an older woman who had done in-home childcare for over twenty years and had retired, but found that she missed having little ones around on a regular basis. So, she watched Rain two half-days a week and another toddler one full day a week (so they overlapped for 4 hours a week and she had each for 4 hours alone). It was great - she was like a grandma, and she did all sorts of neat things with Rain and her friend Bubba (who was a girl). They took walks to go for breakfast, and to vote, and sometime's the woman's grandson came to visit, and sometimes they baked... it was lovely, and very reasonable. I did check her references (glowing) and she was registered with the childcare referral service in our area. She also had a back-up plan in case of illness (her daughter-in-law).

Rain also spent time in three licensed different centers, although one for only a few days before I pulled her out and reported them to the state because she had a suspicious injury, and I witnessed them forcing a 3 year old to eat. This place also had glowing recommendations, although I didn't get to see it open under Rain started there, because they followed the school schedule.

Both of the others were good places in their own ways, and she went to each for about a year and a half. One was affiliated with the campus where I was a student. The biggest issue with that one was when they hired a fairly awful teacher when Rain was 4, and I complained, as did many parents, and the director asked us to please put our concerns and what we'd witnessed in writing.. That center had viewing rooms for each classroom, with 2-way mirrors, and parents could slip into the viewing rooms and put on headphones and see and hear everything, without the teachers knowing if anyone was in there or not. During the two weeks of Awful Teacher, every time I went in to listen there was at least one other parent there. She was out in 2 weeks, and the techer they replaced her with was a wonderful man. Still, if the director hasn't been receptive to the parents' input, and if the parents hadn't felt empowered to demand that the teacher by fired, it could have been a bad scene.

Dar
post #18 of 25
I skimmed through the thread so not sure if anyone made the suggestion of an in-home, licensed dcp vs a center? In our area the main cost differential is between center-based care and home-based care. And unless you're only caring for 1 child other than your own, you MUST be licensed here, by law.

My personal opinion about licensing is that it provides standards for safety/security/training, but does not reflect QUALITY of care in any way. My first dcp for DS was a terrible experience - he was not happy there and we pulled him out after only 2 mos. Our current dcp, who he's been with for a year now, is absolutely wonderful. We paid the same weekly rate for both, both were licensed, but completely different experiences.

So whether you go licensed or unlicensed, center- or home-based, do your homework - find out about their experience/training, talk in-depth to references, make sure there is a written agreement of some sort, spend time observing the dcp with the kids, see how your DC responds to her/them (if a center), drop in unannounced on occasion.

On another note - it was a bit discouraging for me to hear the comments a couple of pp's made about AP mamas caring for others' kids only for the $$ and not for the children themselves. I am hoping to start my own home daycare (possibly unlicensed at the beginning, as I will likely start with only 1 other child to make the transition easier) after I have my next DC. My mindset is that of course I will need the income as I would be leaving my f/t job to do it, but I really LOVE kids and that's why I would choose such a path. Of course, I worked as a nanny for 2 1/2 years when I was single, have done loads of nursery/Sunday school teaching at my church....my own dcp has commented that I am a "magnet" for the other kids there. So I want to encourage you that not all AP mamas have the attitude I have heard described!
post #19 of 25
I have experience with an unliscensed SAHM who just cared about the money and had my child and her own watching TV all day. The biggest problem was that she didn't act like it was a real job, she never watched DS a full 5-days a week, she would always cancel at least 1 day a week. I had to take off work lots of times which cost me a ridiculous amount of $$ off my paycheck. I would not use a SAHM care provider again because of that. If you're going with unlicensed make sure you have a good contract and that she actually enjoys the job.
post #20 of 25
Just thought I'd defend the "honor" of the unlicensed dcp. As other posters have mentioned, I'd be more concerned with the dcp's philosophy and practices (and good references!) than the holding of a license that can't guarantee much of anything.

I am one of those SAHM's who wanted to be a dcp "just for the money--" that is to say, I'm not babysitting because I felt the need for more kids around my house! I have a 2 year old, and a homeschooling 10 year old, and I thought taking a child or 2 "into the family" would work well for us.

I looked into getting licensed, but it seemed like too many hoops to bother, since I was only planning on having 1 or 2 kids. I have worked with small kids for years, and have plenty of excellent refs, so I didn't feel the need to have The State's seal of approval. :

I have one full-time toddler, and a few occasional kids. I told the parents I'd try my best to treat their kids like my own, and I do. I'm not trying to screw the parents over, either. My full-time family pays me as much as a licensed provider because I'm worth it! I treat their kid very well. I don't charge late fees, or make them pay if the baby's sick, or if they take a day off, etc..

They knew going in that I don't have a backup, but I tell them way in advance if I need time off, and I never abuse their trust by taking days off for no good reason.

I know I'm starting to sound like an ad for myself , but my point is this: I'm an unlicensed dcp, and I don't suck. You can't really say, "Will a licensed or unlicensed dcp be better," you have to look at individuals.
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