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day care worries - ? to ask

640 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  MoonJelly
I have a 14 month old and I am thinking of returning to work. I would have to do 12 weeks of orientation full time and then I would do part time or night shifts.
What do you do to prepare your child for daycare?
What thing's should I be looking at when I check out a daycare?
Any other hints for me?
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Look for an accredited center. NAEYC is a goo dplace to start. Your state may have an on-line child care site available to search for centers near you.

Look for good teacher-child ratios, cleanliness, low turnover, good space, lots of outside play opportunities.

If you can stay with your child for an hour or two the first several days, that might be helpful.

Our DS goes to a center that has an observation room, so when he was new there my DH would stay with him in the morning ad I could go at lunch and observe him without him seeing me. Helped me deal with the seperation and the adjustment.
A really huge issue is the child to teacher ratio. It's just simple reality - if you're trying to keep tabs on six babies you're going to have a much harder time than if it were four babies. And when teacher is not stressed out and spending all her time playing referee to misbehaving kids, then she has time to actually construct a peaceful calm environment that is good for the babies. Typically a smaller ratio will mean more dollars to pay, but I think it's well worth it if you can afford it.

Make sure the facility is comfortable with parents coming and going - or staying - as much as they want to.

Try to book your child in at least a month in advance so that you can gradually work up to a full day. It took several weeks of leaving my baby for just a short time before I felt like she was emotionally ready to stay for an entire day.
I'm not sure how old your child is but if he/she is an infant I would look into homecare. This is tougher to find because they are often not accredited but talk to neighbours, friends or parents at the park. We have these drop in play groups at all of the schools and they are a wonderful place to meet parents and care providers, and the teachers are very knowledgeable. I'm shy so it was difficult to do but you have to network, network, network.

Personally, I found day care centres too busy for my baby. Here in Ontario they are restricted to 3 babies per caregiver but they are still within the larger centre so there may be 9 babies in the baby room and all of the older kids are being their normal rambunctious selves - I just found it overwhelming but then I am from a small family and I find 2 kids overwhelming!
My homecare provider had my baby plus a 2, a 3, and a 5 year old who was in kindergarten half days. So she always had her arms free for my son. I actually wouldn't let her take another baby.

And how do you find the right place? Look at every possibility, even if they are long shots, so you can feel out what feels right to you. Once you have found a place that feels right in your gut, talk to the other parents and talk to former clients as well - they are always much more candid since they don't feel the need to justify their choice anymore. Then ease into it with your child, stay together a few times, stay for a while then leave, then stay for a shorter time, etc. My son is now 5 almost 6 and in a daycare centre. He kisses me, gives me a big hug and then runs off. But when he was smaller the transition took longer, I just had to build it into my day.

Good luck!


edited to add: I just re-read your post - duh your child is 14 months! So you're on the line really between infant and toddler....hmmmm. I think I would still go homecare if you can find a good one. Your child will have fun playing with the other kids but still have some quiet time for good naps.
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I really think a good center -- while it will cost you -- is far better than home care, unless the home care giver only has one or two children to look after including yours. At our center, the ration is one caregiver for every 3 infants. The young babies -- not crawling -- ae almost constantly being held or otherwsie engaged, while the older babies are crawling or toddling around and engaged in more active play.

It is the lawyer in me -- but the potential for neglect and abuse is just far greater at home care settings. Be careful!

Originally Posted by shmoo
...the potential for neglect and abuse is just far greater at home care settings. Be careful!
Only 3 percent of confirmed child abuse cases are associated with out of home care settings (eg preschools), the other 97% taking place in some sort of home setting. Makes sense. These centers are typically open and public, with ongoing supervision from parents and different adult care providers.
I think its extremely important you check references and the person's experience w/ the age group of your child. Home care providers are not regulated as day care centers... I had to find a new home care provider for my 8 month old and the person I hired was a mom w/ a child in high school. She lasted 2 weeks, my child cried most of the time and the last straw was when I found out she medicated our baby w/ children's motrin 1 time with out our consent- that day she was immediately fired and I immediately place her in a reputable daycare. Yikes! This woman seemed well respected in our community and this caught me by surprise. Not all home care prividers experiences were like the one w/ my first child, and now with my second baby he is going to a homebased infant care run by a woman w/ 20 plus years of experience and he loves it and he started at 3 months.
Thanks for this info. I only plan on using a daycare, not any kind of homecare - I have heard too amy bad stories about homecare
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I feel like I gotta defend homecare here a little. My son goes to a licensed in-home daycare center out in the country with a food program, preschool program (which he's still too little for), the provider is very reliable and responsible, and she's cheaper than the center in town. I always know who will be taking care of him when I drop him off, and I know which kids are going to be there that day. She's been doing daycare for 13 years and not a blemish on her record. He's never thrown a tantrum when I dropped him off, either, which speaks volumes to me (he has when I've come to pick him up, though!) A coworker sends her daughter to the center in town and it's a crapshoot who's going to be the teacher that day, every time she outgrows a room she gets a new teacher, and the turnover is pretty high. Honestly, with the experience my son has had with his daycare, I'd take an in-home provider over a center any day, all things equal.

Okay, that was a bit off topic! OP, the things I asked when interviewing were her child ratios, how long she's been doing it, checked her license, asked to see the main childcare areas, and always make sure they have an open door policy. If you drop by unannounced and they won't let you go back to see your child, that's a HUGE red flag.
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If I had to put my 14 month old in daycare - I would go for a home care too. The pp who said a center has too much going on for such a young one was right on target, I think. A toddler that young needs things a bit more calm, IMO, who doesn't? But check them out very well.

My absolute honest feeling about it is the provider, no matter where, is the key ingredient. You can have the most beautiful setting with the most up to date handouts for parents with all the bells and whistles, but if the provider does not have patience or is mentally scattered or too busy with other goings on, then the whole program is shot.

Good luck. It is such a huge decision!
My 31mo son goes to a home daycare and always has. I feel I need to defend them too.

A pp mentioned that home daycares are not regulated. That varies from state to state. We've lived in Indiana and in Idaho and both regulate home daycares to some extent. How much depends greatly on how many children they care for (which IS regulated.)

Anyway, I think one of the most important aspects in finding a daycare (whether home or a center) for your child depends on your child. A child who is shy would probably thrive in an atmosphere with a fewer # of children (usually home daycare) while a very active and outgoing child may fare better in a center.

Also, I personally found it important for my child to be in a place where there was a constant - the same caregiver - was important to me. That's one of the reasons I chose home daycare. I've regulated daycare centers in Idaho (that used to be my job) and the turnover was so HIGH. Of course, will the daycare center admit their turnover rates to you? Probably not, but you could get a better idea by asking who your dc's caregiver would be and then ask that caregiver how long she's been working there and work your way around to each employee to find out the same. Very few employees stay more than a year (but stay FAR less than that). Obviously, this could vary from city to city. But, I was actually pretty surprised that the turnover was so high in our city because we had a great elementary education program and each student needed time in a daycare setting.
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Please keep your mind open to all possibilities before making a decision. I thought I would be more comfortable with a daycare centre but when I visited them I just wasn't. As I stated previously, I found them too busy and scheduled for my baby, when compared to our life at home, and these were very high quality day care centres. I was lucky that my homecare provider worked through a day care centre that applied all the same regulatory measures that the centre had to meet to the homecare providers they managed. They visited her often, without prior notification, they offered her training courses so she was up to date on child care issues, they handled the money aspect and provided tax receipts, they ran security checks on everyone in her house regularly, they arranged back up if she was sick or on vacation, and she had been with them for 10 years. This is an amazing arrangement that more day care centres or agencies should offer but I haven't heard of it anywhere but here in Toronto. I admit that if she hadn't worked under this arrangement I might not have been comfortable using homecare.

edited to add: Actually, because this arrangement exists here, it makes me highly suspect of any homecare provider who would work outside this system. So my situation is really very unique. I am sure great homecare providers are available elsewhere and I think it's worth the effort to try and find them.
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I recommend reading Protecting the Gift before you decide on a place.
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