Find quality child care
Angie's List: Start your search early
Child care centers seem to be popping up everywhere, but not all are quality places to leave your child. So, how can you tell if a place is right?
"You need to start your search for child care much earlier than you probably even imagine," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "About the time that you're telling all your family members that you are expecting is really when you should start looking for child care because there's likely going to be a wait list. You also need to be prepared that you're probably going to have to give a deposit as well so just know exactly what you have to do, but starting early is going to alleviate the stress down the road."
According to a recent Angie's List nationwide poll:
- 19 percent of respondents said they used child care more than three days a week
Of those respondents:
- 36 percent said they used a day care center
- 12 percent who used in-home day care
- 5 percent who used a nanny or au pair
- Nearly 65 percent of the respondents who said they used child care also said they checked licensing and accreditation before hiring their provider.
Common choices for child care
- Day care centers: There are many choices for day care centers, including privately owned for-profit centers, church-supported programs and nonprofit community centers. Each type is unique in its own way. Parents must determine what works best for their family when deciding on care.
- In-home care: Many individuals offer day care in their homes. Some parents prefer the casual setting and the fact that home care often features fewer children.
- Nannies and au pairs: If they can afford it, parents may prefer having caregivers come to their own home. Nannies generally arrive at work daily, while au pairs live with the family. Au pairs usually provide child care and light housekeeping in exchange for room, board and a cultural experience.
With so much to consider, Angie's List has compiled 10 tips to help streamline your child care decision-making:
Angie's List Tips: Questions parents should ask
Angie's List: What to look for when touring a facility
- Watch for obvious signs that an establishment is safe and comfortable for children. Look for potential hazards or signs of poor cleaning habits.
- Observe children's overall mood and temperament. Do they seem happy and engaged? Are they being watched or ignored?
- Notice caregivers' appearance and attitude. Do they dress and act appropriately around children? Are they afraid to crawl on the floor and get their hands dirty?
Once you find quality child care, your job is not done!
- Once you have chosen the daycare facility that best suits the needs of your child – stay involved!
- Parents need to constantly assess the child care arrangement.
- Spend a few minutes each day to talk with the caregiver about your child and ask your child what he or she does during the day.
- And drop in every once in a while to assess if the facility still meets your expectations and participate in activities.