Whether you plan on heading back to work, or just feel like you will probably require a bit of extra help with your bundle of joy, one of the most important things you need to do is seek out quality child care as early as possible. But where can you find child care information? And how do you select child care that’s right for what you need? This is an important decision that is likely going to take some time, but these 5 simple steps will help you select child care that’s right for you and your baby.
Decide what type of help you want.
What days and hours do you need assistance? Do you want in-home help or a place to drop off your child? Do you want a group setting or one-on-one help? What is your budget? Deciding on these basic logistics will help you to narrow down the applicants.
Ask for recommendations.
If you have friends or family members who have kids in the area, they are your best resource, so don’t be afraid to ask. You can also ask your obstetrician, doula, or pediatrician because they may also be able to point you in the right direction or inform you of organizations in your area that can help. If you are unable to find help this way, visit the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority website to find more child care information.
Give them a call.
Once you have this list, you should contact each facility or care provider to ask if they meet your basic needs, such as the price, hours of operation, and the age of children under their care. From there, you can ask more advanced questions that help you to get a feel for the type of care your child would receive, such as:
- How many children are there per adult? (For infants, you want no more than 4 per adult.)
- How many children are there in the group?
- What are the caregivers’ qualifications, such as training and education?
- How long have the caregivers been working at the center?
- Do they welcome parent visits at any time?
- What is the daily routine?
- Do they handle toilet-training?
- Is it a registered or approved centre?
Visit the facilities
Now that you’ve narrowed your list down to a few quality child care options, you can go out and see them for yourself. While there, you can ask further questions, speak directly with staff members, and observe the facility.
- Does it look bright, clean, and well-organized?
- Do the children look happy and engaged?
- Are the kitchen and bathrooms tidy and safe for children?
- Do they have safe indoor and outdoor play areas?
Even after you’ve made the decision and dropped your child off (even if you’ve “dropped them off” in the next room while you work), your job isn’t over. In order to ensure your child receives the best possible care, you should continue to stay in touch with the child care facility or caregiver.
- Schedule regular meetings with the caregiver
- Volunteer your time at the facility
- Attend special events, such as holiday celebrations and field trips
- Make impromptu visits to check in on your child
- Ask questions and keep them informed of your child’s changing needs
By actively participating when and where you can, you are letting the provider know that your child and his or her learning is important to you.
What are your tips for choosing child care? Share them in the comments.