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Finding the Best In-Home Daycare or Child Care


Child Day Care

Studies show that home child care offers a good alternative to daycare centers. Many parents choose this option because the casual environment comforts kids and a single caregiver provides hands-on care. However, that doesn't mean it's easy to find a quality in-home care. Take a look at these tips to help you find the best in-home caregiver for your child.

Home Child Care Options

Under the umbrella of "home child care," there are still many options for child care. Take a look at some of the positives and negatives of each option to find out what's best for you and your child.

In-home Daycare (a.k.a. Family Daycare)

Many stay-at-home parents and other individuals who enjoy taking care of children offer day care in their homes. In-home day cares offer a warm, friendly environment with smaller groups of children than typical daycare centers. In-home daycare also usually cost less. However, there are a few disadvantages to in-home daycares. Many states do not require as much licensing for in-home daycares as they do for daycare centers. In addition, many home daycare providers have little or no background in early childhood development and education.

Nannies and Au Pairs

Nannies and au pairs both provide one-on-one care for your child in your own home. While nannies arrive at your home each day, au pairs live with your family. Having a nanny or an au pair seems to be the epitome of luxury. The childcare comes to your own home, provides individual attention to your children, and you get to make all the decisions. However, nannies and au pairs can be very expensive. Furthermore, most states do not require licensing for nannies, so it is largely unsupervised. Your child's social life may also be impacted. You might want to sign your child up for classes (an additional cost) or encourage the nanny to take your child on outings with other kids.

Relative Caregivers

A loving relative who'll care for your child with little to no cost involved sounds too good to be true. Your relative — whether it's your mother, aunt or second cousin — will always provide your child with plenty of love and attention. However, relative care can present complications as well. You may find it very difficult giving your relative directions on how to care for your child. In addition, if your caregiver is an older relative, his energy level may not be able to keep up with that of your child. Two and three-year-olds are always on the go and should spend plenty of time socializing with other children. Make sure your caregiver has enough stamina to take your child on plenty of outings.

Mothers' Helpers

Mother's helpers provide part-time help with children. A mother's helper typically comes to your home while you remain present. Mother's helpers, typically neighborhood teens, can give you time to devote to a particular task at home (such as a work-at-home job or a young infant).

How to Find Quality Care

Choosing a quality home child care situation for your child means researching your options and asking a lot of questions. Keep in mind that you might not find everything you're looking for, but go with the option that fits your lifestyle best. Talk to as many prospective child care candidates as you can. Ask specific questions about their experience, education and childrearing philosophies. Make sure you see eye-to-eye on key issues. Ask the following questions:

  * How long have you been a caregiver?

  * How old were the other children you cared (or are currently caring) for?

  * Do you have any early childhood development or childcare education?

  * Do you have CPR or fist-aid training?

  * What would you do in case of an emergency?

  * Why are you a caregiver?

  * What do you like least about being a caregiver?

  * What are your beliefs about raising a child?

  * How do you comfort children?

  * How do you discipline children?

  * What will my child be doing during the day?

  * What daily curriculum (if any) will be set in place?

When it comes to picking an in-home child caregiver, be sure to do your research and evaluate your options. You might not find everything you're looking for, but you'll know you've found the right situation when you truly feel comfortable and happy with your decision.