Monthly Archives: January 2011

Winter Playtime at Day Care

snow-at-daycareTime spent playing outdoors is very important for children of all ages. However, during extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter, it can be unhealthy and possibly dangerous to send children to play outside. Here at www.decideondaycare.com, you’ll get some helpful parenting advise to make sure your child is safe and healthy.

It’s a good idea to check your daycare provider’s handbook regarding when a child goes outside to play, and what gear they need in order to be allowed to go outside. If this information isn’t in the handbook, you might want to talk it over with your daycare provider. Be sure to be clear with a babysitter or nanny. Oftentimes they may have different opinions and you want to make sure your expectations are clear.

Cabela's Kids' Waterproof Fleece Mittens
Cabela's Kids' Waterproof Fleece Mittens

As a general rule of thumb, it’s OK for children play outside when the temperature is anywhere above freezing, and below the early nineties. However, the temperature should not be your only consideration, especially when it’s cold outside. You need to know if the wind is blowing, if it is overcast or sunny, and what the forecast is for the day. When kids are outside playing in cold weather, it’s important to be ready to pull the kids inside immediately should the weather turn for the worse.

Even if the temperature is above freezing, you need to consider the wind chill and humidity. These factors can affect your child and make it seem much colder outside. It’s so quick now to check a news or weather website. A widget on your PC, laptop, and phone make it easy to keep track of the weather. These will give you information on temperature and possibly even wind speed. However most of them do not show the wind chill, so use the table below as a quick and handy guide to figure out if it’s OK for your children to be outside.

cold-temp-chart

Make sure they wear the proper clothes for the weather, at any time of year. You need to give your daycare provider extra gloves, a hat, and an extra set of clothes (including socks and possibly shoes). If you have an extra coat, and your day care provider has the room, you might even provide an extra coat for your child. You might want to toss a bag with an extra set of clothes for your child in your car so you are always prepared.

White Sierra Kids' Bilko Pants
White Sierra Kids' Bilko Pants

Keep in mind that children often don’t understand the dangers of cold and windy weather. Kid just want to go outside and play. Be sure to explain the dangers to your child so they can appreciate the dangers of cold weather. It’s easy to overlook the obvious, but they need to learn to handle weather appropriately. Teach your children to look for signs of having been in the cold too long, such as numb and tingling fingers, sniffly nose, and watering eye. If they are able to let someone know they have been in the cold too long, they can come in on their own before frost nip or frostbite sets in.

A great benefit to teaching them to take care of themselves in all weather conditions is that they can tell their daycare provider their needs. If they are visiting a neighbor or relative, or other situations where you might not be readily available, they may be able to correct their own situation or recognize trouble signs in other children.

Just these few extra steps can save a whole lot of pain and trouble, keep your child safe and insure a good and fun winter for everyone!

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Day Care Deductions for 2010 Taxes

day-care-taxes-2010With the start of the New Year it’s time to think about our taxes for last year. Decide on Day Care has some great child care tax tips for you to be sure you are prepared for this tax season. Day care can actually be a very good tax deduction but it is very important that you have all the right documents lined up and ready. Make sure to talk to your day care provider early to be sure that you’ll have all your documentation and information ready for taxes. If you’ve had multiple providers through the year, you’ll need to get a Tax ID Number (TIN) or their Social Security Number (SSN).

Day Care Center

The type of day care provider that you have will determine what kind of tax information you should get from them.  A daycare center such as a preschool should have the appropriate tax paperwork available for their parents.  If they child care center doesn’t offer it, just ask them for the information you need.  You’ll need a receipt for the full year, their full business name, and their TIN.

In Home Daycare

In home daycare providers know they need to provide this information to their clients as well.  They should be able to provide you a receipt for your day care expenses for the year.  Remember, they are running a business themselves and are required to track this information, but the accuracy and diligence vary widely from day care provider to day care provider.  Be sure to ask for documentation with as much advance notice as possible so they have time to prepare the required paperwork. Ask for a receipt of your payments for the year, as well as their TIN or SSN. If your provider gives you her SSN, please be very careful with the number. If it’s written down, don’t include any other identifying information on the sheet (such as her name and date of birth), and destroy the paper once you have completed your taxes. You need to do your part to protect her from identity theft.

Nanny

If you have a nanny doing the childcare, it is up to you to document her earnings and take the appropriate taxes out throughout the year. You will need to file taxes as an employer, so this will be more complicated than enrolling your child in a day care center or privately run daycare.

If you use a babysitter frequently this can also be deducted as a child care expense on your taxes for the year.  Just be sure to keep track of when and how much in case you are audited.  Often times if you do not have use frequent child care you may not meet the minimum needed for a deduction.  It is a good idea to do a quick and dirty calculation of your day care expenses to see if it will be worth it for you to itemize your day care and child care deductions.

Even if you don’t have full time daycare, you may still be able to deduct expenses relating to childcare.  Look to your local tax code for the specifics but many offer tax breaks to help families with children.

Other Considerations

You will need to document your childcare expenses, but it’s also important not to let any other possible tax breaks slip through the cracks.

  • Government tax deductions
  • Employment day care benefits
  • Childcare payments
  • Tax credits
  • Volunteer work
  • Charitable contributions

If you’re planning to get a refund, you want to get all the information as soon as possible. Please be patient with your daycare provider if they are not getting the information to you as quickly as you would like. That’s not a problem if you end up owing money, but you definitely don’t want to wait until the very last minute to get the necessary information from your provider.

You might also want to check with your employer to see if they offer a plan to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck each month, pre-tax, and make that money available to you to pay your childcare provider. Since this money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes, it affects the amount of the childcare expense deduction you’re allowed to take.

Be sure to check your local and Federal regulations and speak with tax professionals should you have complicated daycare taxes and expenses.  Be sure that everything is documented and speak with those that were involved in your day care throughout the year.  Taxes are different from household to household but many people forgo child care deductions they could be receiving.

TurboTax 2010 for Day Care Deductions
Day Care deductions can be maximized with easy to use TurboTax 2010.

There are many great software solutions for taxes.  Use the one that you are most comfortable if you decide to do your own taxes, but make sure you have the software that fits your particular needs.  At www.decideondaycare.com, we like using TurboTax. It guides you through the process step by step and makes sure you’re not missing out on any deductions. However, sometimes it’s best to leave complicated tax situations to the professionals.

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Sick Child Parenting and Day Care

Day Care Digital ThermometerSometimes it’s difficult to determine when to keep your sick child home from day care. Decide on Day Care is here to help you with parenting advise about this decision that all parents must make.

Children can go to day care when they have a cold, but they shouldn’t attend with more serious illnesses. Your childcare handbook likely gives you a lot of information regarding unacceptable temperatures, conditions, and sicknesses.

It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for what you’ll do if someone needs to stay home with a sick child—know your workplace’s policies for these types of situations. Other parents truly do appreciate it when you keep a sick child at home, and don’t expose their children to illnesses more serious than a cold. Understanding parents also realize we can’t keep our children home with every sniffle, and honestly, shouldn’t. Getting a cold from another child is an inconvenience, but it happens. Getting the flu or strep throat from a sick playmate that should never have come to day care in the first place is something else entirely.

Children in day care with others do tend to get more illnesses than children who are not enrolled in daycare. Depending on the age of your child, you can teach some basics to help him or her stay healthier:

  • Proper use of a facial tissue—they need to learn how to blow or wipe their nose, capture whatever they get on the inside of the tissue, and throw the tissue away themselves.
  • Covering their mouth and nose with the crook of their elbow when they sneeze or cough, instead of with a hand. If they cough or sneeze into their hand, they need to wash their hands immediately.
  • Washing hands with soap and water, and for a longer time than most children do—it should be long enough to sing happy birthday two times.
  • Keeping their distance from kids who are sick and staying away from others when they themselves are sick.

If your child has vomiting, diarrhea, an unexplained rash, or a fever (usually above 100), your daycare provider will want him or her to stay home. Also, if your child is lethargic or is crying because of the sickness, he or she is better off at home. If you are concerned about your child’s well being you should also be sure to at least call your doctor’s nurse help line. Ask them if any further treatment is needed.  They can be very helpful to let you know what you should do for your child and if what your child has is contagious.  Remember it is always better to error on the side of caution when your child’s health is at stake.

Sometimes you will be called at work to come pick up a sick child. If this happens, understand the provider cannot keep your child at the daycare without risk of infecting the other children. It is best to try to get to the day care as soon as possible. Make sure you have let your employer know with as much warning as possible.

There was recently a very interesting study that came out regarding day care and illness. It is related to this subject and a very interesting article.

All of these things should help you as a parent get through these strange and often frustrating experiences with your child when they are sick in day care.  You will find a wide range of policies but they should fit somewhere close to this.  If you find that your day care has either too lenient or too restrictive policies regarding sick children you may look into another provider.  Too lenient and you can find you and your family being sick often when it otherwise could have been prevented.  Too strict and you may be forced to pick up your child with something as simple as the sniffles. This can be just as big of a problem possibly putting your job or other things at risk.

Use this parenting advice to gauge your own day care’s policies and what you think is best for you and your family. Ultimately, as so many other things, you must agree and be comfortable  with your own day care’s sick child policies.

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Share Your New Year Resolutions with Day Care

new-year-day-care-fireworks_0Making New Year’s resolutions is a long and honored tradition! But did you know you can get your children, and possibly even your daycare, involved as well? Decide on Day Care has some great parenting advice to kick off the new year!

The reason traditional New Year’s resolutions endure is because they can actually be quite helpful. There’s definitely a lot of value in thinking about ways we can better ourselves. A goal of self-improvement, as well as the challenges and successes that go with it are valuable lessons for your child to learn.

Squirrel's New Year's Resolution
Squirrel's New Year's Resolution

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions, be sure to discuss with your children why you make them, and how you make them. Then ask if they would like to make a resolution of their own. Let them know they can be ways to expand their horizons, such as trying something new, or it can be working on an existing issue like doing better with their studying, getting along better with their siblings, etc.  If you’ve made a resolution you can do with your kids, they could join you in your resolution. This is a good opportunity to explain that some goals are easier to reach when people work together and support one another.  If you and your children help each other succeed with your goals, they will learn a valuable lesson.

Your children may wish to share their resolutions with their day care provide or with the child care center to so they can help with a goal.

Here are a few suggestions that you can use to help you and your child develop some common learning goals for your New Year resolution. Try to pick something attainable for both of you.

  • Learn the alphabet
  • Learn colors
  • Learn letter sounds
  • Learn to count to 20
  • Learn to count to 100
  • Make a stack of 10 blocks
  • Write their name
  • Learn their home address
  • Learn their phone number (or your cell phone number)
  • Practice a musical instrument a certain amount of time per day

Your child can also make goals like:

  • Managing a temper
  • Practicing good manners
  • Getting along better with others
  • Doing chores

These goals are harder to measure, but if others notice a change, the resolution is probably working.

Hopefully these short lists give you some ideas of your own.

I would also suggest that you and your day care provider come up with some goals of your own between you for your children.  It is easy to just let the time slip by but it you set the expectation of some new goals every year, it gives everyone something to work toward.

The things your child learns will help them on their journey through life. By including your day care provider in these New Year Resolutions, you’re giving them an important guide to meet your needs and expectations.

Your child will find that working toward a goal is difficult, but in the end it can be very rewarding to meet and even exceed your goals in life.  New Year resolutions are a great idea and can be a very important learning tool.  Your children will watch you face challenges of your own, and see what you do to find solutions. They will learn to use those same skills to work toward their own goals. Make sure to set reasonable goals and make an effort to put these high on your priority list.  Your child will love that you have a vested interest in a goal they have and working with them to meet that goal is one of the many rewarding parenting moments.

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