Thinking Through Your Childcare Choices
Whether you are new to the area, making a change in your child care arrangements, or having your first child, there is a lot to think about when you choose a child care center.
You have some tough decisions to make.
- What do you want your life and your child’s life to be like during the preschool years?
- Do you (both parents) want to work full time?
- Do one or both of you want to drop back to part time?
- Does one of you want to stay home fulltime?
- Are you a stay at home parent looking for a group experience for your child?
- Child care – what kind of setting, a home care provider or a center?
- Is a relative going to be with your child part time or full time?
- Do you really want your mother mothering your child?
This process can feel very overwhelming, especially if you are also moving or changing jobs or newly pregnant!
Many parents find these questions tough to answer. You are not alone.
An Historical Perspective
There are parenting classes out there in increasing numbers but the large majority of us go into this parenthood thing with very little real preparation. In fact, the current generation of parents is even less prepared than our parents or grandparents were. We come from relatively small families ourselves in which we were not required to be involved in the parenting of our siblings or cousins as previous generations were. We also have issues and choices that previous generations did not. It is more common than ever for both parents to have full time careers. It has also become more common for single parents to choose to have children and the average age at which people are having children is rising. Fewer people live in traditional suburban neighborhoods where preschool children would play in small groups around the community. Although some families still have the option of a local set of grandparents available to do child care, that is becoming less and less common. Often we don’t live close enough to our parents for that to be possible and many grandparents still have busy lives of their own that don’t have room for full time child care.
Finding the Right Childcare for Your Family
So, you have decided that you want enroll your child in an early childhood program. The good news is that good child care does exist. The bad news is that there is a lot of poor quality care out there as well and it is now your job to figure out which is which. There is a lot of competition to get into the good child care settings, so you need to start your research and get on waiting lists immediately.
Here is a list of sample questions for you to consider asking as you visit child care programs and home care providers.
1. What are your hours and what schedule options do you offer?
2. What is the staff/child ratio in my child’s group?
3. Is the Center accredited, if so by what organization?
4. What is staff turnover like and how long have the teachers in my child’s classroom been at the Center?
5. What kind of training do the staff have and do they have ongoing staff development opportunities?
6. Are the staff members trained in CPR and first aid?
7. What is the curriculum philosophy at the Center?
8. How is discipline handled at the Center?
9. When is the Center closed, do I need to pay for the days that my child is on vacation?
10. Are there opportunities to meet with my child’s teacher?
11. Can I visit my child’s classroom anytime that I wish?
12. What are the tuition costs and how is payment handled?
13. What happens when my child is sick?
14. What happens if I am late picking up my child?
Once you feel that you have found a setting that is a match for you, it might be wise to ask for the name and phone number of a couple of other parents who are currently enrolled in that program. Other parents with children just slightly older than yours can give you the real story about a particular Center or home care provider.
Making the right decision about a child care program is very important. You need to be able to go about your day knowing that your child is spending his/her day in a place that is safe, nurturing, stimulating and right for his/her unique needs.
If you feel that the Child Care Center in Norwich is the right place for you please fill out and email us your completed Wait List Form.