As single moms, one of the biggest challenges that we face when working or returning to work is finding a reliable 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 can care for your children when you work?
How to find a great child care provider near me:
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 daycare?
- Are you looking for a daycare provider who is open 24 hours, if you have a non-traditional work schedule or if you have to be at work before 9 am?
- Do you want a provider with a small child ratio to the provider?
- Do you need a provider to be close to your job or home?
- Would you prefer a daycare center or a home daycare?
- Do you want a provider who implements an educational curriculum?
- Are you in need of 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 your needs, 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.
If you have school-age kids, ask other parents at the school and drop your kids off and pick them up. Please pay attention to the child care provider and daycare center vans that usually have their name and phone number on the side.
Begin your search by checking sites like the National Association of Family Child Care to find an accredited provider in your area.
You can also use sites like Craigslist for home daycare 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 provide you with referrals to your local licensed centers and home daycares.
Once you compile a list, start making some calls. Ask them questions based on your needs, and 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 visit the sites you are interested in, be sure to have a list of questions 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 have a daily schedule. If they transport 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 again to 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 facility’s cleanliness 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 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 an orientation day
If everything has checked out so far, bring your child with you for one last visit.
Please 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 you like, decide based on your list of needs that you started 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 with an immediate opening because we usually 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!