The rise of the Delta variant has triggered another delay in return to office plans for some major companies, including tech giant Google. Even so, the day will come when businesses expect their employees back at work in person. For many, that is already the reality.
The return or soon-to-be return to office and non-office workplaces once again brings attention to the childcare struggles families face. Even if you can access childcare services, however, you still want the right childcare services for your children. Not sure about the best approach to finding that service?
Read on for some tips and strategies to help you find the right one.
Let’s not sugarcoat it. You want a child care service in at least a semi-convenient location.
Otherwise, you face the prospect of adding a lot of time to your daily commute in the morning and at night. If you already face rush hour traffic, that can make for a grueling weekly routine.
As a general rule, convenient means somewhere relatively close to either your home or your workplace. Fortunately, you can bring the might of Internet searches to bear in your finding child care services quest. Something like “child care services near me” in a major search engine will bring up a list of many of the local options.
You can even use online map services to narrow down options based on your home’s location or your job’s location. You can also search for options along your regular route to work. Always bear in mind that you won’t just drive to the location on a weekend or when well-rested, but also at the end of a long week or a terrible day.
You should also ask for recommendations from people you know with kids about the same age as your own. Child care is like any other service, which means any given service will have strong points and weak points. Not every child care service handles every age group equally well.
Some services may do really well with babies or toddlers but only offer adequate care to preschool-age kids. Other services may have a lot of success with preschoolers, but only get fair marks for their toddler care.
Asking around with parents of kids in the same age brackets means you get information about the specific kind of child care you need and want. That will prove far more helpful than a more general impression of the quality of a given child care service.
Think of it like this. Let’s say you own an iPhone that needs a new screen. Do you want information about general electronics repairs or about services that provide iPhone screen repairs?
You want information about iPhone screen repair services because that addresses your needs more specifically.
Review sites offer another place you can glean useful information about the local child care options. These options often become more helpful after you develop a list based on location and any personal recommendations you get. Once you have that information in hand, you can cross-reference it with information on the review sites.
While review sites do provide a useful service, they’re not a foolproof method by any stretch of the imagination. You should always approach them with a few things in mind.
Anyone can post on them. That means that people who never used a service can go on those sites and talk a business up or give it terrible marks. That’s why you can’t take any single good or bad review as hard truth.
Look at the overall score a child care business has instead. Is it positively or negatively rated overall? That overall score gives you a much better impression of what you can expect than any individual review.
Does the service respond to negative reviews and how? Are the responses reasonable and address the specific issues? If so, it’s likely a responsible service.
What’s Their Discipline Policy?
Very early on, most parents make a decision about how they will discipline their young kids. That choice can land parents in a lot of places on a fairly broad spectrum of options. While you probably won’t find a child care service that exactly duplicates your approach, you probably can find one that takes a similar approach.
Finding a place with that similar approach matters a lot. You don’t want your kid getting different messages from you and their child care provider. Consistent messages about how adults address unacceptable behaviors set up reliable expectations for your child.
You should also review the discipline policy to ensure that they don’t employ methods that you would not. Most child care services avoid punishments like exclusion, humiliation, and physical punishments. Still, it’s always better for you to check.
Pay a Visit
You should always pay a visit to any child day care services you’re considering. At the very top of the list, it lets you get a read on how clean they keep the place. Don’t mix up messy with dirty.
Kids, especially kids in groups, are messy. They will leave stuff lying around, abandoned when something else catches their interest. Some messiness is normal and probably healthy in a child care environment.
Instead, look around for things like dirty surfaces or signs that the carpets don’t get regular vacuuming and even shampooing.
Visiting also lets you get a peek at how the staff interacts with the kids. Are the staff down on the floor, engaging with the kids, or holding infants?
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers all need a lot of interaction. If you see the staff interacting with the kids a lot, it’s usually a good sign.
Do They Offer Enrichment Programs?
For a lot of parents, the primary consideration is whether or not the service can take their child during the hours that the parents are at work. That is a reasonable concern. If they can’t cover the hours you need, the service isn’t a viable option.
Once you move beyond the basics of are they open during the right hours, is the place clean, and do they have an acceptable discipline policy, you may want to consider the question of enrichment. Yes, interacting goes a long way toward helping kids on the development front.
Still, are there any structured programs aimed at enrichment like you might find at a Montessori child care service? Think in terms of sports, art, and maybe even some super basic science content. While these programs aren’t a replacement for formal schooling, they can help give your child a little mental boost by spurring curiosity.
Enrichment programs can also take a little pressure off of parents to provide enrichment activities at home. While you should look for opportunities for enrichment, it can prove a relief if you don’t have to manufacture them on a daily basis.
There is no getting around the fact that child care services cost a fair amount. Just placing one child into child care can run you several hundred dollars a month. Two kids in child care can easily double that amount.
Before you go looking for child care, you should sit down with your finances and figure out a child care budget. You may even want to consider developing a couple. You can develop one around what you can comfortably pay and another around the absolute maximum you can afford.
Knowing both the comfortable limit and absolute upper limit puts you in a position where you can make informed decisions. No matter how great a service looks on paper, that upper limit lets you automatically exclude services that are beyond your financial reach.
That can prove a hard pill to swallow for many parents. You see a great service and want the best for your kids. It’s natural.
Yet, overspending on child care almost always means cutting into essentials somewhere else, which doesn’t help anyone.
Trust Your Instincts
Sometimes you walk into a place or meet a person and you just don’t like them. You can’t explain why, but your intuition tells you that you should take a pass. If you visit a child care center and experience those feelings, don’t ignore them.
There is a good chance that your subconscious mind picked up on something that your conscious mind didn’t. Those bad feelings are its way of letting you know. Take them under advisement and look for other options.
It’s your child’s welfare at stake. You should feel comfortable with the people and place you’ll leave your kid on a daily basis.
Picking the Right Child Care Services
Picking the right child care services can feel like an impossible decision at times. You’re leaving your kids with perfect strangers. That’s why it helps if you have a strategy for picking.
Pick a from locations you can reasonably tolerate going every day. Ask for recommendations and check reviews. Look at discipline policies and any enrichment programs they offer.
Trust your instincts, but keep your budget in mind.
Looking for more tips on child care? Check out the posts in our Kids Things section.