Searching for child care is a scary process for any parent and knowing how to even start looking can be even scarier. Who do you ask? Where do you go? What do you ask? These are all questions that parents don’t know the answers to completely but with a little guidance, the process can be made more manageable.
First of all, what kind of child care is best for your child? In-home care is more like home with an ongoing relationship with one caregiver and possibly an assistant.
- A home child care provider, or family daycare, will likely take holidays and vacations that you will need to secure back-up care or your own vacation time for. But the schedule can be more flexible and it is a much smaller and less expensive usually than a child care center. You can find a fit that suits your child and know that as they get older, the caregiver remains the same.
- A child care center has teachers, cooks, directors and is usually separated by age groups. The cost is higher because of the increased overhead but the increased amount of teachers and staff can put some parents more at ease. Hours of operation are set and the center is likely to observe holidays but you won’t need to have back-up care for personal days or vacations.
- A nanny is the most expensive option but can be a good fit for a family who really desires care to take place in their own home.
This aricle focuses on the first two types of child care. Where to find quality child care here in PA? The first stop would be to contact your local CCIS, or Child Care Information Service. Here in York County that is Child Care Consultants, but if you need a different county, there is a list on this site. Another alternative to this step would be to look on the Department of Public Welfare’s listing of child care providers, but this would only encompass family child care providers. Another online search is through PA Keys, and lists both child care centers and family child care but only providers who participate in the state’s STARS program. Once you’ve completed this step, there should be a list of names that geographically meet your needs and now it’s time for the calls to begin.
But, wait! Before you pick up the phone, think about your ideal child care setting. Imagine how it would be, no matter how far-fetched it seems and then pick a piece of paper and write down all of the things from your vision that you’re not willing to compromise on before making calls. Also, decide on a budget for child care but don’t make the cost the only deciding factor. If you find the perfect child care and it’s $5 per week more than you wanted to pay is it worth it to walk away?
Next time…questions to ask every child care provider or director you talk to.