As a single mom, working is not an option and one of the biggest challenges that we face when working or returning to work, is finding a child care provider.
If you are fortunate enough to have family members who are willing to care for your children while you work, you are lucky but what do you do when you don’t have family members who live close by or who are able to care for your children while you work?
Here are some tips on finding a great child care provider for your little ones:
1. Make a list
Before looking for a child care provider, you need to make a list of what you need:
- Do you have multiple children who you would like to all be able to attend the same day care?
- Are you looking for a day care provider who is open 24 hours, if you have a non-traditional work schedule or if you have to be at work before 9am?
- Do you want a provider with a small ratio of children to provider?
- Do you need a provider to be close to your job or home?
- Would you prefer a day care center or a home day care?
- Do you want a provider who implements an educational curriculum?
- Do you need someone who offers before and after school care?
- Do you have a child with special needs and need someone with specific qualifications?
Once you have decided what your needs are, you can begin your search.
2. Your Search
- Ask friends, family and other parents for recommendations.
Remember, referrals are always the best and can save some time, as well.
If you have children who are school age, ask other parents at the school and when dropping your kids off and picking up, pay attention to the child care provider and day care center vans that usually have their name and phone number on the side.
- Check online
Begin your search by checking sites like National Association of Family Child Care to find an accredited provider in your area.
You can also use sites like Craigslist for home day care providers, as well as Care.com.
- Make some calls
The Child Care Aware hotline (800-424-2246) gives numbers of your local childcare resource and referral agency, which will give you referrals to your local licensed centers and home daycares.
Once you compile a list, start making some calls. Ask the questions based on what your needs are. Don’t forget to ask about rates. If you are still interested after a preliminary phone interview, make an appointment to see the facility and talk to the staff.
3. The Interview
When you go to visit the sites that you are interested in, be sure to have a list of questions that you would like to ask. You need to make sure that you cover everything from rates, hours, snacks and meals to nap time. Ask what a typical day looks like and if they have a daily schedule. If they will be transporting your child to and from school, you need to ask about insurance and driving records.
Make sure to observe the interaction between the provider and the children and you also want to ask what their provider to child ratio is. Be sure to also watch the interaction between the children. Are there aggressive children? Are their children off to themselves and no one is interacting with them? If you are looking for someone to care for an infant or child under 2, ask about the feeding schedule, diaper changes and what you need to provide.
Walk around and observe the cleanliness of the facility and ask what their policies are for sick children, discipline and injuries.
4. Get References
If this is a facility that you found on your own, make sure that you ask for references. When you check the references, ask specific questions, i.e. how was their child treated, what they love about the facility and what they didn’t like, etc.
5. Bring your child for a test drive
If everything has checked out so far, bring you child with you for one last visit. Pay attention to how the providers interact with him and how your child interacts with the other children. Make sure that your child feels at home and if they are of age, ask them what they think?
6. Make a decision and enroll your child
If you have narrowed down the providers or centers that you like, make a decision based on your list of needs that you started off with, what you observed and how comfortable your child felt during the visit. If there is a waiting list, get on it but hopefully, as a single mom, you find a provider that has an immediate opening because usually, we need to find someone ASAP.
Hopefully by following these steps, your experience will be one of ease and relief and you find the best child care provider for your child who meets all of your needs. Good luck!