Friday, February 11, 2011

Health Care and Child Care

As a new parent finding child care for the first time, or a family attempting to find a new provider, locating high-quality child care might be easier said than done, according to ChildCare Aware.org. There are many things to consider before selecting a child care provider. Whether you're just beginning your search for child care, as a new parent, or you're attempting to locate a new provider, locating high-quality child care can be tricky.
According to Childcare.About.com, There are certain pieces of basic information that must be provided for caregivers, whether using a sitter for the afternoon or enrolling your child at a weekday day care center. This goes double for a child with special needs. While it's not necessary to divulge every detail of your child's history, you should make sure the provider has enough information on hand for their day-to-day care -- and in case of emergency. Your phone number and a doctor's phone number are just the minimum. Once created, keep the list saved on your computer where it's easy to update and print more as needed.

The child care resource and referral agency (CCR&R) in the area where you now live can help you find available and affordable child care and early education in your location, according to ChildCare.gov. Contact Child Care Aware, a free, Federally funded service, at http://www.childcareaware.org/  or at 800-424-2246 to find a local CCR&R. The local CCR&R may also be able to help you find out if you qualify for free or subsidized child care. Links to State CCR&R agencies are available on the NCCIC Web site at http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/statedata/dirs/display.cfm?title=ccrr . And a list of all state agencies can be located here:  http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/statedata/dirs/display.cfm?title=ccdf.
Here are some tips, according to Child Care Aware, to locate quality child care facilities and care givers:
1. Start Early:  Start looking as far in advance as you can. No matter what type of care you are considering - a child care center or care in someone else's home - finding the right child care option can take some time.

2. Make a Call:  Begin your search by calling your local experts - your child care resource and referral (CCR&R) center. CCR&Rs can give you the facts about child care, and a list of child care options in your area that may meet your needs. In addition to what is in this brochure, make sure to ask your CCR&R these things:
•What are the licensing requirements in my area?
•How can I get information about complaints and licensing violations?
•Are there any child care financial assistance programs that my family qualifies for?

3. Visit and Ask Questions:  Make sure you visit the child care options you are considering. Find out about these key indicators of quality:

•Adult to Child Ratio: Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. You want your child to get plenty of attention. The younger your child, the more important this is. Babies need an adult to child ratio of no more than 1:4 (one adult for four infants), while four-year-olds can do well with a ratio of 1:10 (one adult for ten children).•Group Size: Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better. Imagine a group of 25 two-year olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 with two adults. Both groups have the same adult to child ratio. Which would be calmer and safer? Which would be more like a family?

•Caregiver Qualifications: Ask about the caregivers' training and education. Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn. Are the caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills? Do they attend classes and workshops?

•Turnover: Check how long caregivers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It's best if children stay with the same caregiver at least a year. Caregivers who come and go make it hard on your child. Getting used to new caregivers takes time and energy that could be spent on learning new things.•Accreditation: Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Providers that are accredited have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements.The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.

4. Make a Choice: Think about what you saw at each visit, and make the best choice for your child and family.

5. Stay Involved: The work isn't over when you find good care for your child. You and your child's caregiver are partners now. Here are some ways to be involved:
•Have parent-caregiver meetings regularly, and ask questions.
•Offer to volunteer time when needed, like participating in clean up days, fixing broken toys.
•Be there for your child's birthday party.
•Visit your child at child care and read a book aloud.
•Join in special events, like field trips, Career Day, Black History Month, or other holidays. Even if you can't get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask the caregiver how things are going, and how your child is doing. Visiting and participating in events at your child's provider sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child's caregiver that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.

After returning to work from maternity leave, many new mothers will start to worry about their company's "mommy track", or the work-life balance your company gives working mothers. Balancing your home life with the rigors of a pressure-packed work environment, according to Childcare.About.com, is not for everyone and talking to other working moms in the company will provide a good idea of what the future will hold. If the company you currently work at seems too demanding and would take away from what you need to do at home, perhaps a more easy going employer and a relaxed working environment will give you what you need to provide for your family while having the time and energy to be a great mom at home.

If you are having difficulty finding good child care, according to Child Care Aware, here are a few guidelines that may help in your search:
--Stay in touch with your CCR&R referral specialist, ask them to keep thinking about what might work for you.

--Look in a different location; on your way to work, near work, or near a public transportation stop on your route to work, try a different route to work.
--Talk to friends, neighbors, people at your library, church or community center who may have faced the same problems. How did they solve them?
--Discuss your child care need with your employer and with co-workers. If many of you are having the same difficulties, your employer needs to know.
--Make a short term plan for child care, but keep working with your local CCR&R till you find the kind of care you're looking for.
--Get on the waiting list at every program that would work for you. Sometimes openings come up unexpectedly.

Good child care can be expensive, and often may be difficult to find. However, remember that they work for you. When the care of your child is left up to others, make sure that you are comfortable with your choice, and that whomever is watching your child can be trusted. If you pay for services, then expect the best. If you don't do your homework, your child can suffer from poor choices that you make. Good due diligence when selecting great care for your child provides safety and comfort for your child, and peace of mind for you.

Until next time.

1 comment:

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