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Choosing A Day Care Home For Your Child

Apr 17, 2008
Many parents choose day-care homes for children under ages 3. This type of day care takes place in the home of the caregiver, who looks after a number of children, sometimes including his or her own. The children may be of different ages. Many parents prefer day-care homes to day-care centers because the atmosphere is more like home and their child has one consistent caregiver who is more likely to give individual attention. This situation generally offers more flexible hours than a center; a more relaxed, natural environment; and a less formal relationship with the caregiver. The major disadvantage of day-care homes is that caregivers are unsupervised, making it hard to judge the quality of their work. You might also need to make other arrangements if the provider becomes ill or goes on vacation.

Day-care homes should be licensed by the state. Call the agency responsible for licensing child care in your state and ask for a copy of the state licensing regulations. State regulations vary, but a day-care home should not have more than six children per adult caregiver, including the caregiver's own children. If the children are infants or toddlers, the ratio should be no more than two children younger than 2 years old for each caregiver. (This ratio is smaller than that for day-care centers.)

When looking for a quality day-care home, visit several and compare them. Look for a setting you are comfortable with and a provider who shares your values and child-raising philosophy, and with whom you would feel at ease sharing your concerns about your child.. Some providers may have a child development associate credential, indicating that they have training in child care, have passed a written examination and an oral interview, and have been observed and evaluated by a professional.

Make sure the home is warm, cheerful, clean, and safe. Check to see that the home has been childproofed. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be present and in working order. Diapering and toilet areas should be clean and you shouldn't see any children with soiled diapers or training pants. Adults and children should always wash their hands after using the toilet and before handling food. Ask if there is a quiet area that can be used for naps, with clean bedding for each child.

The children should be able to get play materials for themselves and the caregiver should encourage them to take care of the materials they use and put them away when finished There should be enough toys and other materials to allow each child to play without having to wait more than a few minutes The toys should be clean and in good condition and appropriate for the children s ages interests and abilities Look for stimulating and creative materials such as books blocks puzzles crayons paper paste modeling clay children s scissors and pencils There should also be lots of toys for active play such as riding toys and push pull toys The television should not be on for more than an hour during the day and the caregiver should plan daily activities that include free play rest or naps and outdoor time He or she should encourage listening and talking through activities such as storytelling word games and imaginary play

Observe the caregiver's interaction with the children to see whether he or she is patient consistent and fair Does he or she have a sense of humor show affection and seem to genuinely enjoy being with the children? Do the children seem happy, comfortable, and relaxed? Does the caregiver hold infants while feeding them rather than propping up their bottles? Does he or she talk to infants and cuddle and play with them?
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