There are many options for you to think about when it comes to choosing the best child care to meet your needs. From nannies to child-care centers to home-based daycares, your community may have a variety of settings for you to consider when placing your child in the care of another adult.
In California, 62 percent of children under five years old spend at least part of their day with a caregiver, which can include:
Grandparents and other relatives
Babysitters or nannies
Licensed, home-based daycares
Licensed child-care centers
Each option can offer different advantages for you and your child – things like one-on-one attention with a nanny, or interactions with other children in a group setting.
There are some additional things to keep in mind, such as age requirements (some providers only accept children at certain ages), whether your child is potty-trained or not, hours of operation (and how it relates to your work schedule), and, of course, cost. Ultimately, choosing the right child care comes down to your preferences, what feels most comfortable for your family, and having trust and confidence in your provider.
1. Identify your priorities and preferences.
Before you start your search, here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do you need a full-time or part-time child-care arrangement?
Do you want the caregiver to provide child care in your home?
Are you looking for child care near your workplace or closer to your home?
Do you want your child to be around other children, or have the full attention of one adult?
Do you prefer to leave your child in the care of a professional child-care provider, or a trusted relative or friend?
2. Research your options.
Dig around to find options that might be a good fit for your family. Here are some ways to research:
Ask friends and family who they have used for child care services.
Get a list of referrals from a caregiver or child-care center you’re interested in considering. Ask the references whether the caregiver was reliable and about their overall experiences with the individual or center.
Call the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network at 1-800-543-7793.
Check out the Background Checks for in-home child care at http://trustline.org/.
See if you qualify for subsidized child care.
Learn more about the types of child care in California at Department of Social Services.
3. Trust your instincts.
Search for a caregiver who you and your child like. Here are some things to look for:
Watch how the caregiver interacts with your child and other children.
See how your child reacts to seeing and leaving the caregiver.
Walk away from any situation in which you feel uncomfortable.
Discuss discipline to make sure the caregiver’s strategies are similar to yours.
Check out the cleanliness and safety of the facility.