Whether you are in an established career and have found out you’re pregnant or you have been a stay-at-home parent with young children looking to return to the workforce, one thing you can be sure of and that’s that you will need childcare for your little cherub. But you won’t want to be leaving your beloved child with any old childcare provider, but the best one for your family’s circumstances, so it is vital to consider a few essential things when looking for a childcare facility.
What sort of setting to choose?
First off, which type of childcare do you want to have your little one attend? A few options are available to you depending on your circumstances, including external daycare centers, childminders based in their own homes, or a nanny based in your house. The first two options are excellent for ensuring your child will be well socialized as there will be plenty of other children there; they also work well if you don’t have extra space in your house. A Nanny who lives with your family is an attractive solution if you have the room to accommodate one as it can provide flexibility of hours and builds a close relationship between the child, carer, and the rest of the family.
Where to look
Regardless of which type of provider you opt for, looking online at reputable sites is an excellent place to start your search for a registered provider. Some websites will deal specifically with one type of provider, such as if you want to look for a nanny, there are agencies that can help you find one, while other sites allow you to look for a variety of settings in one convenient place. For example, looking at after-school care and family daycare centers with Care for Kids takes out some of the stress for you.
What will you get for your budget?
Once you have decided on the type of childcare provider you are interested in, you will need to weigh up the costs. If it is a daycare center you are looking for, you will find a wide variety of prices on the market, and there are a variety of reasons for this. It is a placement expensive because it offers several extra-curricular activities such as learning Spanish and a fitness class run by an outside provider as well as providing meals and therefore offering good value for the money. A cheaper place is not necessarily a worse provision just because it does not provide these extras; it may well be you are able to take your child to extra-curricular activities yourself, therefore allowing you to save on the cost of the childcare setting not providing these things.
Do they fit in with your lifestyle?
If the ethos and philosophy of a childcare facility fits in with how you choose to raise your children should be another factor you ought to take into consideration as a placement that doesn’t readily match up with your ideals will make you feel uncomfortable and possibly lead to issues that otherwise could otherwise be avoided. It can be simple things such as does the childcare provider allows you to send your child in with reusable nappies, or do they insist on disposables, or how they approach nap times. On a larger scale, a Montessori school probably isn’t the right school for you if you like strict routine for example as by their nature, Montessori schools are much more free form in their approach to education even at the pre-school level, where little ones are encouraged to do things for themselves that may make some people uncomfortable.
A crucial factor to consider is availability because it doesn’t matter how much you have your heart set on a particular childcare place; if there are no spaces free when you need it, you cannot do much about it. Therefore, it pays to make sure you find a suitable alternative that you are happy with. You may find that you can split your child’s time between two places, which can be a good option if you are hoping to take up more time at one facility as more days become available, or if, for example, you use family part of the week and use a paid place the rest of the time. By being sensible, you should be able to make the available childcare options work to your advantage while also giving your child the best possible care.