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Choosing a child care professional is one of the most important decisions parents make. Whether seeking a child care professional for an infant or school-aged child, a parent's job is to find the best quality care available. While some parents may have family members available to provide child care, most people must rely on either day care centers or private individuals to care for their children. In some cases, it may become necessary to employ two or three different sources before finding the right child care professional.
There are many things to consider when choosing the right caregiver for your child. If you are looking for a day care center, visit several of them near your home or work. Pay close attention to how the workers there interact with the children. Look for active workers whose attentions are focused on the children, not on other adults. Take notice of the environment as well. Look for a clean, well-kept facility with plenty of age-appropriate toys.
Day care centers should provide some structured activities for toddlers and older children and the children should be grouped by age. Visit the child care professional who is in charge of your child's age group and ask questions about daily routines, policies, and schedules. You won't be able to think of every question, but as your conversation progresses, you should begin to attain a certain level of comfort. If you're not comfortable with the facility, mark it off your list.
When interviewing private individuals, inquire about their experience as a child care professional. Ideally, they should have formal training of some sort whether from previous jobs, i.e; a former teacher or day care worker, or they have taken child care classes. A licensed child care professional will have a state license to operate a child care business from their home. They should have emergency and CPR training as well.
Take note of their home and its surroundings. Look for child proofing and plenty of room for play. Make sure you understand what services you are receiving including whether meals and snacks are provided. Again, throughout the course of conversation, you should begin to feel comfortable with their abilities to care for children. Trust your instincts and if you're not comfortable, look elsewhere.
While it's possible to hire a non-licensed individual to care for your child, do not do so unless its someone you know very well. It may be tempting to leave your child in the care of your next-door neighbor's good friend because she charges less than average and already stays home with her own children, but unless you know the person well, don't consider it.
With all the horror stories in the news about children who are mistreated and neglected by their caregivers, it can be terrifying to leave your child with someone you don't know. However, a complete interview and examination of a potential child care provider and their facilities can tell you plenty. A parental instinct is often correct, so start searching for a child care professional several weeks or months before you need one and you'll find one you're comfortable with before you become desperate for help.