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Suggestions for Parents: Tips for Choosing Childcare

Updated on October 30, 2012

The choice about childcare is probably one of the most difficult choices you are ever going to make in your life. After all, your children are the most important things on earth and you are making a selection as to the adults who are going to take care of them. These people will influence your child, keep your child safe and help to educate your child. A good childcare service can supplement your parenting and improve the life of the child. But there are obvious risks due to the possibility of getting bad child care.

Here are some tips for choosing child care which will help increase the likelihood that you'll make the right choice:

  • Consider all of your options for childcare. There are many different types of child care which might meet your needs. A nanny service can provide a regular array of people who have been certified to meet your childcare needs on an ongoing basis. You can select someone yourself to provide in-home childcare. You can choose a daycare, which offers the further choice of home-based daycares and preschool settings. Or you can join a parenting group in which parents take turns with regular childcare. Think about all of your options, considering which ones are right for you and your family.
  • Make a list of everything that you want in a childcare provider. Remember that list that the kids in Mary Poppins made to get the nanny that they wanted? Your wish list should be just as dreamy. There may be certain things that you'll be willing to compromise on (the applicant you love has 3 years of experience instead of five, for example) but this will give you a good starting point for choosing child care.
  • Get referrals from other parents in the area. Yes, it's true that most people don't want to give up their good babysitter. But if you ask enough people, you might get some leads. Otherwise, head to a nanny agency or advertise in places with children, such as gymnastics centers. This gets you better leads on childcare than just placing an ad in the paper.
  • Screen applicants carefully. Ask a lot of questions. Watch them interact with your child. Make sure to call references and ask for information. If you are getting an in-home care provider, you might want to ask for CPR/First Aid certification or some experience with child development education.
  • Wait for the right child care. Yes, you need to get back to work. Yes, it's important that you get the childcare set up before the kids are out of school for summer vacation. But you don't want to be in such a rush that you choose from a bad pool of applicants. Wait until you know that you've found someone that can treat your kids right.
  • Go with your gut instinct. You know if someone is wrong or right. Just slow down and listen to your heart.
  • Check in with your kids after the childcare provider has been hired. Chances are that if you went through all of the other steps, you've got good child care. But in case you're wrong, it's important that you nip problems in the bud. This is best done by making sure to ask your kids about their day with the childcare provider and making sure to listen closely to what's being said.

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