After reading “A Random Daycare PSA” from The Almost Mom last night. I felt a need to do my own post on daycare options and explain why, although I agree with her on many points, I don’t totally agree with what she said and feel that all you new and soon to be Moms could use even more information from someone that has worked in a group center, been licensed and has also been unlicensed. Oh, and a nanny.
As you can guess, I’ve spent the better part of my life taking care of children (since I was 11, in fact). The only jobs that I’ve had that haven’t dealt with children are being a grocery store clerk and a waitress in High School and College. I went to a technical school after hs and got my certification in Childcare and then went to work in a big group center after I graduated. From there, I was a nanny for 12 years in CT. Came home to WI in 2008 and opened my un-licensed daycare. I got licensed after somebody turned me into the state and stayed licensed until I moved to my new town and went back to unlicensed.
Pros to a Group Center
- They are usually open from 6am-6pm and all major holidays.
- If a teacher is sick, they are still open.
- Children are separated by age.
- Children move from teacher to teach as they get older.
- Age appropriate curriculum.
- Let’s face it, they usually have cooler toys and playground equipment than a home daycare can afford.
- There are lots of different people coming and going throughout the center all day long.
Cons to a Group Center
- They are more expensive.
- They don’t have the flexibility that a home daycare has when it comes to a sick child. Example: If I know your child is in the middle of teething and has a fever, I’m not going to call you to pick them up unless they’re acting completely miserable and disrupting being with the other kids, a group center is going to call you to pick up at the slightest fever, cold, etc. Teething or not.
- Children are separated by age.
- Children move from teacher to teacher.
As you can see, two of the things I have, are under both and that’s because I feel like it depends upon your perspective. I love that I’ve gotten to have many of my daycare kids from birth (or close to it) until they went to Kindergarten. If I would’ve stayed in my old town, I’d still have them for before and after school care. I also think children in a home daycare with a variety of ages pick things up quicker than children that are just with their own age because they are watching older kids (this goes for both the good and the bad things, lol).
Pros to In Home Daycare
- They are almost always cheaper than a group center.
- In my opinion, you get more personalized care. We really get to know your child.
- In some areas, I think there’s more flexibility (i.e.. child being sick).
- They are in a home setting which may feel more comfortable to them.
- Smaller number of kids to get to know. (I still get my old kids together for playdates and they LOVE being together again. I have 3 of them that I call the 3 Musketeers.)
- Usually, less germs to pick up, although right now I have all little ones that put everything in their mouths so it’s impossible to keep the germs at bay.
Cons to In Home Daycare
- They usually have shorter/less flexibility with hours than a group center.
- If the provider is sick or needs days off, they usually need to close.
- There is usually no one else there during the day. Just the provider and the children so you really need to trust your provider with your child.
As far as Licensed vs. Unlicensed Home Daycare. Yes, Licensed homes are monitored, however, if it’s a daycare that hasn’t gotten in trouble before or hasn’t been reported for anything, the Licensor usually stops in 1, maybe 2 times per year because they are so busy with everything they have to do. At that point, I then have to take time away from the kids unless they happen to show up at nap time to show that I have all paperwork up to date and they walk around the house to do a quick safety check. It in no way makes me, personally, a better provider.
Face it, Ladies…in a perfect world, there would be plenty of wonderful licensed daycare out there. Unfortunately, there’s not. There is not even enough licensed daycares out there when it comes to infants and that doesn’t take into account your personal preferences. None of the group centers in my town even take under 2’s.
It’s up to you to be your own licensor. Call your local resources to find out what the average cost is for group/home daycares in your area. If you go somewhere and the price is way lower, stay away. Do your homework! Ask the tough questions. Do they have a policies/contract? Do they have an open door police (if they don’t…stay away!)? Do they have emergency plans in place? What is their education? What were they doing prior to starting a daycare? What did they learn in their prior jobs that they think will help them effectively do daycare? What kind of activities do they do with the children? Do they have a play-based curriculum or are the kids doing worksheet type activities? Ask to look around their home. Do they have smoke alarms where the children play/sleep? Carbon Monoxide detectors? Fire Extinguisher? Does each child have their own crib/cot/sleeping bag/blankets/pillows? Who’s washing the bedding, you or the provider? How much room do the children have to play? What kind of area do they have outside to play in? Is it fenced? What kind of animals do they have and how are they with children? Are the animal up to date on their vaccines? Do they have references for you to call? Will they be open to a background check (Yes, you can do these yourself!!!)? Ask how they do tax receipts? Will they get them weekly or at the end of the year? I do the end of the year, but I wouldn’t be opposed if a parent wanted them weekly to keep track of themselves. And then last, but not least…what are their fees? I’m sure there are more questions to ask, these are just off the top of my head.
Just as you need to be your own advocate and listen to your own intuition when it comes to infertility, you need to do the same with who is going to provide care for your child. Like I commented on her post, I honestly would not be going through licensing again if it wasn’t for adoption. Also, make sure you check your own State/County laws. In WI, you can watch 3 children un-related to you before getting either County Certified (you can’t have more kids but you an accept kids that get state aid) or State Licensed. In WI, if you’re licensed for home daycare you can have up to 8 children, but only one of those can be under 2 before your numbers have to start going down. Anyways, I hope this helps all you New Moms and Moms to be.
P.S. I know I didn’t touch on getting a nanny as an option. I figure, most of us are struggling to even come up with the money for treatments/adoption so getting a nanny probably isn’t a realistic option. That being said, if that is an option for you and you want any advice on what things to ask when it comes to hiring a nanny and what to be prepared for, I’d be happy to help. Just send me an email! 🙂
**Disclaimer: These are just my own thoughts and opinions. You need to do what works best for your family and what you are most comfortable with. No matter what option you pick, there’s going to be good and bad facilities.