One of the most contentious issues faced by most mothers is whether to take their young ones to a child care center or to become a stay-at-home mum. To help you make an informed decision, let’s consider a few key issues about child care.
What is the cost of childcare?
Childcare costs in the United States vary by geographic location, level of care provided, time spent at the center, and the child’s age among other factors. However, the average cost of full-time child care for an infant in all states across the country is $9,991 per year. Around 35% of children below the age of 5 years who require child care are taken to daycare centers while 8% have home-based daycare. The average yearly cost of full-time home-based daycare is $7,431. If you opted to go for nanny service, keep in mind the nanny earns an average hourly salary of $18.66, which translates to $38,813 per year for 40-hour weeks, according to findings by the International Nanny Association. The cost of childcare may seem high for many families but the service nevertheless allows both parents to work and earn a higher household income.
Should I be worried about child care?
Life in the 21st century is becoming more demanding by the day leaving parents with less time to spend with their young ones. It is therefore quite understandable for a parent to worry about child care facilities, especially on matters concerning safety and level of care provided by such centers.
Child care is not bad for your kid. In fact, studies have shown that children cared for in high-quality child care services between the ages of 2 and 3 years have better attention and ability to handle emotions when they start going to school. You don’t have to worry about the level of attention your child is given at a care center. You can always talk to the director of the child care if you have any concerns. A good daycare provides a healthy diet of nutritious food. They even display their menu for parents to check and verify. You shouldn’t have a reason to worry about child care if you have identified the right facility.
What kind of license does a child care center need?
There are two main types of licensed child care. The first one is a licensed child care and the second one is a licensed family child care home. The licensing authorities have a set of acceptable safety, health, and educational program standards that every child care center must meet. The licensing regulations are set by each state, which is why they may vary from one city or municipality to another. However, standards and licensing are provided by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). A good child care should be accredited by these two bodies or at least by the state authorities.
How can I find good child care?
There are a few key issues to consider whether you are looking for a formal child care center or in-home care.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Check the center’s reputation. A good child care center should have a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and willing to give you references from previous clients. Talk to parents who have experience with the center to find out more. A good facility should have a stellar reputation from previous clients.
- Does it have a safe and healthy environment? Check their safety policies on every important aspect, from immunization, hand washing, diaper changing, and dealing with a child who suddenly becomes sick. What plans do they have in case of emergencies such as floods, fires, and other natural disasters?
- Find out if they have a stimulating curriculum that helps to stimulate your child’s physical and mental development. Do they have age-appropriate toys and other useful learning and recreational tools?
- Check their teacher-to-child ratio. The ideal ratio should be one caregiver for every 4 or 4 toddlers, one caregiver for every 4 to 6 older toddlers, and one caregiver for every 6 to 9 preschoolers. This helps to ensure your child gets constant supervision and one-to-one attention.
- Check if the caregivers have the necessary qualifications. Do they regularly attend workshops and seminars on child care matters?
- Find out if the center is accredited by a national authority. Accredited child care providers have met the standards set by accrediting authorities and therefore worthy of your trust.
What are the best ways to find a good child care center?
Finding good child care is almost the same as looking for a good job. You need to be thorough and do your homework well.
Here are a few steps to take when searching for good daycare service:
- Consider your priorities. Are you looking for a child care provider close to your home or work?
- Consult friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations on trusted daycare centers based on their experiences.
- Ask the experts such as the Child Care Aware via their hotline number 800-424-2246 for recommendations of accredited daycare centers in your city or neighborhood.
- Visit the NAYEC or NAFCC websites to find accredited daycare centers near you.
- Most daycare providers in your area can also be found on online Yellow Pages directories.
Remember to visit the center for a physical inspection and interview their staff or director for further details.
Does child care have to be licensed?
There are many unlicensed centers child care facilities but a licensed one is preferable because it has met the required standards for operating a child care program. The standards include safety, health, caregiver-to-child ratio, safe sleeping practices for infants, emergency preparedness plans, clean and well-disinfected surfaces, hand washing, and much more. Their staff must have passed background checks and received training on safety and health issues.