Choosing a child care provider is one of the most important decisions that working parents have to make. It is not uncommon for children to be in daycare upwards of forty hours every week, so parents must feel comfortable knowing that their child is in good hands. If you have a baby on the way, are returning to work after some time off or need to change child care providers, there are a number of things to consider that should help you to make the decision that is best for you: Decide on the type of situation you see working best for your family. The four most common child care scenarios are:
- Family Provider: Employing a member of your family to care for your child is one possibility.
Private Nanny: A private nanny works for one family at a time.
- Pros: You already know the provider, so you are familiar with his or her strengths and weaknesses. Plus, you can be assured that your child will be in a loving environment.
- Cons: If a situation arises that you are not comfortable with, it may feel a bit awkward to express your concerns to a family member. For example, if the caregiver allows your child to watch more television than you would like or is less conscientious than you are about feeding a healthy diet, you may have a difficult time telling him or her that you would like things done differently.
Daycare Center: Daycare centers are licensed and regulated by each state, and provide care for a large number of children.
- Pros: One-on-one nanny care assures that your child will receive plenty of attention and allows him or her to form a close bond with the provider. Also, some nannies are willing to do light housework.
- Cons: Nanny care is typically quite expensive and if the nanny works in your home, he or she is legally considered your employee. As your employee, you are required by law to withhold all necessary taxes from his or her salary. Additionally, unless your nanny takes your child on regular outings and playdates, he or she may have a difficult time developing social skills.
Home Daycare: In a home daycare, the provider cares for several children in her home.
- Pros: Teachers at daycare centers are usually required to have at least some continuing early childhood education, so they are familiar with the latest ideas in child development. Also, older children in daycares are often offered opportunities to participate in outings and field trips.
- Cons: Siblings typically do not get to interact during their day since most daycare centers divide the children into groups based on age. Additionally, centers normally have a fairly high employee turnover rate, so it may be hard for your child to form a lasting bond with his or her caregiver.
- Pros: Since group size is typically fairly small, a home daycare provider can give sufficient attention to each child. Also, many home providers take children from newborn through school-age, so your child will have many years of consistent care. Home daycare is usually the most affordable professional option for child care.
- Cons: Home daycare providers typically work alone, so parents must be able to make arrangements for alternate care to accommodate the caregiver's vacation and sick time. Also, since licensing regulations vary dramatically, there is a large variance in capabilities from caregiver to caregiver.
Once you have narrowed the type of care that you are seeking, ask friends and relatives for caregiver recommendations. The most impressive education and resume cannot compare to first hand testimonials.