Child Care Providers

Child care services – how to find the right child care option for you

Having been on both sides of the child care services issue – as a mom looking for child care and as a licensed provider of child care with a BA in Child Psychology and Child Development, I bring a unique perspective to this question. In order to find the right child care option for you, it will be valuable to get some clarity about the following issues.

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Relationship with Provider

Your relationship with the person who will be providing the hands-on care for your child is of key importance. Optimally, you will want to select at least five candidates to interview, with the understanding that the interviewing process will be a mutual experience. In other words, the fit between a family and the provider must be equally agreed upon by all participants. So while you may think you are interviewing them to see who qualifies as a good fit, the ideal provider will also be interviewing you and your family to see if you qualify as a good fit for them.

If you are coming from a different place philosophically from the person who is to be providing care for your children, you will likely face a host of problems. To get a sense of compatibility here, ask some value-based questions. These questions require answers that reveal the values of the responder either directly or indirectly. Value-based questions are not limited in scope; in fact, the majority of the questions you're likely to ask will be of that nature. Pay attention to what is being revealed to you.

For instance, if you were to ask, "What is your favorite thing about your work day," the answers will vary, yet they will invariably reveal what is valued by the potential caregiver. A person who values spontaneity is likely to give a different answer than someone who values order and rules. And there is nothing wrong with either one. The point is that you want to find the right fit for your family. Don't make the mistake of thinking this means both parties must match up 100 percent in all areas. For example, I happen to have an extremely high tolerance for messes in the home, as my value for creativity and experimentation supersedes my value for orderliness. Don't confuse orderliness with cleanliness mind you – I've often attracted parents who had a low tolerance for messes but also valued their child having the opportunity to be creative and (safely) experimental – thus my child care home was a great fit for them!

Finally, I suggest you pay attention to the interviewee's comfort levels when discussing a variety of topics. There are few services that place you in as intimate a relationship as the one providing care for your child. Believe me, your child will be willing to discuss anything and everything under the sun with this person, and you will want to be able to do likewise!

Type of Care Situation

It's important to consider what kind of situation would serve you and your child. There are three main types, all with pros and cons, and once you narrow down your choice to one type, it's simply a matter of weighing them against each other to discover the right option for you.

In-Home Nanny

Pros

Cons

Child Care Center

Pros

Cons

In-Home Licensed Family Child Care

Pros

Cons

Consider these factors and then follow your heart – it won't lead you astray!

By Mary K Weinhagen