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Begin the Search for Childcare

Begin the Search for Childcare

Start early when you decide to select a daycare center for your child.

By FamilyTime

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In more than half of American families with children under the age of 18 both parents work outside the home. Given this statistic, it's no surprise that many of our children spend some time during their babyhood and young childhood with outside caregivers.

Parents needn’t worry about this. Leaving your child with a well trained and loving person does not mean you are doing a disservice to the child or to yourself. To be a happy and responsive parent, you have to meet both your needs and those of your child.

Top-notch childcare is one way to accomplish this.

The Choices
Parents in the market for childcare typically choose from three avenues: in-home care provided by a nanny, babysitter, neighbor, or relative; a home-based daycare center; or a childcare center. One of these is no better than the other.

The choice is a matter of personal preference, affordability, and the availability of quality daycare in your area. The way to make the decision is to do a little detective work.

How to Find Daycare
If you know your little one will require daycare, it's never too early to launch your search. If you are pregnant, start in your second trimester; if you plan to return to work after an absence, start looking several months before your job starts.

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find daycare. Also investigate churches, synagogues, YMCA's, and local social service agencies. Search the Web, scan bulletin boards at libraries and similar venues, and read the Yellow Pages.

Daycare can be expensive. High prices don't automatically translate into quality care. You must do your homework before deciding.

Once you have identified several possibilities (many parents visit as many as 10 to 12 centers), call and make appointments to visit, whether it's a center or an in-home business. This first visit may be a short one that involves no more than a quick walk-through.

When you investigate a center seriously -- you may have crossed several off your list after a brief visit or a quick drive-by -- make an appointment with the director. Bring your child and a list of questions with you.

Make sure you are comfortable with the physical plant — that it’s clean, organized, and well supplied — but more importantly make sure you like the atmosphere.

Once you decide on a daycare center or in-home facility, you will feel a lot better about the need to balance your work life with your life as a parent.

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