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Finding Child Care

by Sarah Hann

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It’s hard to trust another person with your child. Our kids are our treasures, and handing them off to someone—especially someone we don’t know well—is one of the most difficult things to do as parents. Whether your child goes to full-time daycare or spends a Friday evening with a babysitter, you want someone you can trust.

The best way to find a quality daycare is to go to a trustworthy organization for reviews. The National Association for the Education of Young Children works with teachers, researchers, and others to support early childhood programs and ensure families have access to affordable, high-quality child care. Founded in 1926, NAEYC works to help families find the best situation for them. NAEYC has high standards and measures schools based on several areas.

NAEYC-accredited institutions must have “educational quality and knowledge to promote child learning,” said Linda Anderson, the senior director of the NAEYC Academy, who has been with the organization for more than 30 years, assessing child care programs and sitting on the council for accreditation. “The environment must be healthy and safe, with a curriculum that fosters development.”

The schools must also have relationships with parents and the community, promote learning through play, and have experienced administrators, Anderson said.

She encourages parents looking for a daycare to use the NAEYC’s website to search for accredited schools in their area.

Which daycare is right for a family? “That’s an individualized determination based on your own children,” Anderson said. “Being a parent myself, I know it’s a very important decision. I encourage people to take it seriously, do research, visit schools, and trust their instincts.”

To better advise parents in the search for good programs for their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, NAEYC recently launched a new For Families website, which offers parents tips about choosing child care, a database of accredited schools, advice from child behavior experts, and more.

“NAEYC understands how important it is to parents and families to elect a high-quality program for their children,” NAEYC Executive Director Jerlean E. Daniel, Ph.D., said. “We developed the For Families website to help them find the best possible early childcare experience for their child and to share useful, research-based parenting and child development information.”

If, after doing the research, parents decide they’d rather have in-home care for their children—whether full-time or just a few hours a week—online resources can also help find the perfect fit. Care.com is the world’s largest online care site, connecting families to available nannies and babysitters.

Families seeking caregivers can go to the site and post a job with their specific requirements—number of children, times requested, special needs, dietary restrictions, and more. Members also have access to caregivers’ information and can request background checks. Almost 7 million families and caregivers around the world use the site.

“The key to finding the best quality care for your family is to make your Care.com profile (job listing) as specific as possible,” Managing Editor Katie Bugbee said. “Talk about what you need. Explain who you are by describing a few of your parenting beliefs and styles.”

Care.com also provides tips for interviews and how to go about finding the right person.

“Do a background check,” Bugbee said. “Call references and ask extensive questions. Go with your gut. If something just isn’t sitting right, don’t hire. It’s better to wait until you’re 100 percent comfortable with the person who is caring for your kids.”

The benefit of having someone in your house is that he or she can fill a myriad of roles—babysitter, housekeeper, chauffer, dog-walker, and whatever else your family needs. Your childcare provider can also be important if you have a special needs child or religious or lifestyle restrictions that make it hard to send kids to a daycare.

“It’s a huge relief to be a working parent and have a reliable, trust-worthy nanny at home with your child,” Bugbee said.

Whatever your needs, these great resources can help find the right fit for you—a trustworthy child care provider who will nurture and support your children. The best advice is to take your time finding the best care provider for your specific situation.

“Remember, you are trying to find someone to co-parent these children with you,” Bugbee said. “Someone you will want to consider part of your family.”

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