All posts by Daycare Mom

Interviewing the Nanny Candidate

daycare_flower_girlYou’ll need to do 2 or 3 interviews with candidates. The first will be a phone interview with basic information:

  • How many children you have and their ages
  • What hours you need her  to work
  • Whether you need a live-in or live-out nanny
  • The salary you’re offering
  • If she will be the only one supervising the children or if another adult will be in the house
  • What duties you expect her to do around the house
  • What activities you expect her to do with the children
  • If she needs to transport the children in her vehicle or if she will be using your vehicle
  • Holiday pay, vacation pay, sick pay and any other benefits you are offering.

If you are happy with the phone interview, you can ask for a second interview, with just yourself or yourself and your spouse.  During this interview, you’ll get more in-depth:

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Last job (how long it lasted, why she left it)
  • References
  • How long is she planning to stay in this position
  • Discipline philosophy
  • First Aid and CPR training
  • Cooking and dietary needs
  • Does she smoke?
  • Visitors she may have
  • Any hobbies that she may share with the children (example: musical instruments)
  • Personal or religious beliefs

You will need to ask her if it is ok to do a background check, and if she will be driving your children, you probably also want to ask her for a Motor Vehicle Report. She can request this at any local DMV and they will provide it for a fee.

After you’ve checked references and done her background check, you’ll want to have another interview where she meets the children. You can also ask any follow-up questions at this time.  Allow approximately two hours for this so you can watch her interact with your children.

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What to Look for in a Nanny

daycare-babyNanny agencies work to match up a family with a qualified nanny candidate. The agency does the screening process for you, including a background check, and motor vehicle record check. They’ll also verify the candidate’s identity and legal status with Social Security verification.  Some agencies may even do drug testing. Nanny agencies generally charge an initial fee to start the search, and then will charge a flat rate or a percentage of the nanny’s first year gross salary for the placement fee.  Whether you use an agency or an ad to hire your nanny, you should give yourself about six weeks for the process. If you need someone more quickly, agencies may offer temporary nannies until they can place a candidate matching your criteria.

You’ll need to know before you begin what you are willing to pay, what hours per day and per week the nanny will be working, and whether she will be a “live-in” (you supply room and board) or “live-out” (she commutes to and from your house each day) nanny.

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Would a Nanny Be Best for My Family?

nanny_lakeOne option in your search for childcare is hiring a nanny. This option involves the most work—you not only have to find a caregiver for your child, but you are also hiring an employee and opening your home and family to this person.

When considering whether to hire a nanny, you need to determine if this form of childcare is best suited to your family’s needs.  Nannies are generally more expensive than in-home daycares or daycare centers, and nannies have a high turnover rate. But if you need childcare at odd hours, a nanny might be your only option. Parents who have children with special needs may find nannies are the most reasonable option. Parents who work at home may hire a nanny for a portion of the day while they work. A friend of mine had twins and was recovering from complications from the birth. She hired a night nanny two nights a week and said it was a lifesaver, because in those early days she was grateful for a little bit of sleep.  Even if your situation is more “traditional”, you may simply prefer not to take your child to a daycare.  The nanny decision is a tough one, since a nanny is a much more integral part of your life and your household than a daycare.  There are definitely more legal issues involved with hiring an employee to come to your home. You pay her paycheck, pay the payroll taxes, and decide on her benefits.

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Situations with Other Children in Daycare or Preschool

Biting and Hiting

daycare_bullySome children may bite or hit. Their parents are generally just as horrified by it as you are.  As they and your child’s daycare provider or preschool teacher are working on the problem, it may help to realize that for children under 3, it is a way to communicate their frustration or wanting a toy from another child. It may take a little while for the parent and daycare provider to work through the issue with the child. If the child seems overly aggressive you will need to make a decision for the welfare of your child. Whatever you decide, handling the situation with grace and compassion will go a long way in the eyes of the other child’s parents.

ceep.crc.illinois.edu/poptopics/biting.html

Some situations require that parents of children in the same daycare discuss the issue.  This may seem awkward, but if the provider can help both sets of parents, as well as the children involved, come to a solution, it may lead to a better environment for all.

Bullying

We know bullying occurs in school-age children, but it may also appear in daycare and preschools.  It may not be constant, and it may not be to the degree that older children bully, but be sure to take your child seriously if he or she talks about experiencing this kind of behavior from another child. The first thing to do is listen and show love and support to your child. When you speak to your child, find out if there are certain times or circumstances during which the offending child begins bullying your child. Ask your child how he or she responds to the behavior. Perhaps you can offer some suggestions for your child to deal with the situation. It’s a good idea to talk to the provider about the situation. Perhaps he or she can offer some suggestions or let you know what the daycare is doing about the child if they already know about it.

Keep in mind; bullying shouldn’t be trivialized as “kids being kids”. This type of situation can be very harmful to the victim. Also, a child who is emerging as a bully can perhaps be more easily set back on track than a child who has been displaying the behavior for years. Early intervention for all children involved may save a lot of heartache in the future and is very important for child development.

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What to Look For in an In-Home Daycare

kid_blocksYou may not even realize what questions you’ll have when you set out to get daycare for your child. An experienced in-home daycare provider will be able to give the basic information that every parent needs.  The first question to ask is if they have any openings for your child’s age.  Even though they may be listed on a website or have been recommended by someone, there’s no guarantee the provider has an opening.  Just getting through this part may take awhile, but don’t get discouraged.  If the provider cannot take any more children herself, ask if she knows of anyone else who may be able to. Daycare providers are often members of local associations, so they tend to know the other daycare providers in the area.

After availability, you’ll need to know:

  • Hours (does that schedule work with your schedule?)
  • Weekly rate (do you pay the same amount regardless of if the child attends or not?)
  • When is the payment due?
  • Location
  • Is the provider licensed?
  • If you have a school-age child, is transportation to and from school available?

If the provider’s information is fitting your needs so far, you can get more specific:

  • Pets in the home
  • Does anyone smoke in the home?
  • Who else lives there, and are they involved with the daycare?
  • Will anyone else be helping the provider?
  • If the provider has an emergency, is someone else available to watch the children (even just until parents can arrive to pick up kids).
  • Is the provider trained in CPR?
  • How many children are currently in the daycare?
  • Discipline philosophy
  • Are there any preschool activities?
  • What activities do the kids do?
  • Do the children play outside?
  • Do the children go on field trips?
  • Are babies fed on demand or on a schedule?
  • Can the parents visit at any time?
  • If you have a baby or toddler, do they potty train? What method is used (does it match your own plan for your child?)

There are other subjects to consider, that are a bit more delicate, and are really more personal preference items:

  • Religion – how does the provider handle Christmas and Easter, for example?
  • Does the provider feel comfortable talking with you about your child, or other things going on in the home that may impact your child?
  • What does the provider expect from you as a parent?
  • What kind of food is served? What is a typical meal?
  • How often do they receive sweets or candy?
  • How much time will they typically spend watching T.V. or movies? What kind of programming will they watch when they do watch something?
  • Keep in mind, anybody who lives in the home or visits on a regular basis will be around your child.
  • Does the provider try to stay on a semi-consistent schedule?
  • What role does music/art/science play in the daycare?

If the provider has children of her own, you may want to find out of the provider takes the child to and from school or activities, and what she does with the daycare kids during this time. She may also have another family member that she takes care of, like a parent. It may be your child is in the car quite a bit. It is up to you if this is OK or not.

These are just some of the things that should be considered and discussed with potential daycare providers over the phone. If they match up to your needs it is time to schedule an in person interview with the provider.

Check www.decideondaycare.com for more information on what to look for an how to go about an in person interview.

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Warning Signs in Daycare or Preschool

childcare_artOnce your child is enrolled in a home daycare, daycare center, or preschool, you need to be aware of the provider and the children. If the provider always seems unhappy, exhausted and overwhelmed at the end of the day, you might want to ask her about it.

Relationships between daycare providers and parents aren’t always the most comfortable. Sometimes they can get downright frosty. Oftentimes this is because the provider and the parent have different ideas about childcare. Hopefully it is something that can be resolved. The parent’s relationship with the daycare provider is important. If you don’t have an honest relationship with the person who is taking care of your child, you can’t trust that person to work with you when something goes wrong.

You must take action promptly when you suspect abuse or neglect. It’s something none of us wants to even consider, but you need to be on the lookout for red flags.

Here are some signs of trouble:

  • The provider never has time to talk to you.
  • Child is shuffled out the door when you drive up.  You should always pick them up inside.
  • You should be allowed to visit your child at any time. You should not be discouraged from seeing your child.
  • Change in your child’s behavior—any sort of dramatic behavioral change.
  • Your child starts using inappropriate words.
  • Showing an unusual interest in people’s private parts.
  • Any talk of secrets or keeping anything from anyone.
  • An excessive fear of going to daycare.
  • An excessive amount of scrapes, cuts, and bruises.

Talk to other parents, they may be stumbling onto something you do not know about yet.

Parenting is hard enough without having to worry about your child while you are at work. But no matter the great references or reputation, if you feel that something is not right, listen to your gut. It’s better that you be an overprotective parent than to have a bad situation continue.

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Finding Quality Daycare is Possible!

daycare_teetertotterOur daycare search was so extensive my husband built a spreadsheet for information regarding who had a spot for our child, how much they charged, their hours, and if they had preschool activities. After visiting or talking to someone, we filled out the “comments” section. This became full of comments such as “5 dogs-very noisy and smelly”; “lit candle within reach of children”; “seems nice, mentions Jesus A LOT”.

Before finding our very close to perfect provider, we had some interesting daycare interviews. One caregiver told us the kids mostly stay in one room in the basement of a bi-level home. She said they watched a movie every day and then cartoons when she was preparing meals or a snack on the upper level. I saw a spacious, railed deck and asked if the kids liked playing on it. She said, “The kids don’t go outside. They’ll stay in the basement”.  One house had an open basement stairway, with no baby gate or door, straight off the playroom area.  I tried to ask her about the stairs, but her teenage son’s music was so loud she didn’t hear my question. My husband called a provider to ask if she had an opening and how much she charged. She assured him over and over again that she didn’t drink very much. Of course, he never asked her about her drinking habits.

Needless to say our children never went to these providers.  We did sign up with a woman who seemed so perfect she seemed too good to be true. We were relieved and happy, and so discouraged from the previous interviews that we ignored many things that were going wrong.  When we couldn’t take any more, we realized we should have started the search again right away, no matter how painful it was. We learned that  you won’t know if the philosophy you discuss in the interview is actually practiced every day until you’ve started. The best way to approach a new daycare situation is in a “probationary” style. Give it a month or two…if you or the children are not comfortable with the new provider, start looking again. Even if your concerns seem vague or petty, listen to your instincts. An open line of communication with your child’s daycare caregiver is a must. If the problems are not resolved, remember that this is a business arrangement, and you have the right to do business with someone else. Also remember that there is someone out there who will be a good match for your family…you just have to keep looking.When we took our children out of that unsatisfactory daycare, we spread the word that we were desperate for a provider, and got a reference for a wonderful, experienced, and loving woman, whose rates were much more reasonable.

Remember, you are the advocate for your child.

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Interview with a Daycare Center or Preschool

magic_tree_2_smallAfter getting some information from the initial contact with the daycare center or preschool (see What to Look for in a Daycare Center or Preschool), you’ll want to visit the location. Remember that a lot of what they do is probably heavily regulated by the State: how they clean, how often, and even what cleaning solution they must use. The caregiver-to-child ratio is also regulated. So when you visit, try to pay attention to the teachers. Do they seem happy and engaged when they are with the children? If you are touring with the director, does the director treat the teachers respectfully? If the daycare center treats their teachers well, the chances are better they will have more patience with the children and the staff turnover will be less. After this initial impression, look around to determine the following:

  • Is the center clean and bright?
  • Are the toys mostly educational?
  • Does the environment seem warm and inviting?
  • Do you see normal safety equipment (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, baby gates, outlet covers, etc.)?
  • Is the bathroom child-friendly? Are there stools for reaching the sink, is the soap easy to use, and are there potty chairs for potty trainers?
  • Is there an area outdoors for running, jumping, playing? Is there playground equipment?
  • Do the children have naptime? Is the area for naps quiet and dark?
  • Can the provider give you the names and numbers of some parents for referrals?

Most daycare centers and preschools alike will have take home packets with detailed information on the daycare center.  Make sure to scrub through everything they provide and write down any questions you have as you go through the preschool material.  Make sure to follow up with the daycare center about your questions on their documentation.

After you have visited, and feel comfortable, be sure to bring your child to visit.  Pay close attention to their reaction to the visit.  This can be a great indicator of how well your child will do at this daycare center.

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What to Look for in a Daycare Center

boys_readingDaycare centers can be as varied as the children they have in them.  Some focus on early child development, some on physical education while others work as a preschool to prepare your children for the years ahead. They can also range greatly in quality and price. In this article we will help you ask the right questions and know what to watch for. At www.decideondaycare.com we will help you with what to look for in a daycare center.

A daycare center is a good option for childcare, especially for parents with jobs that have longer hours or where it is difficult to take time off without much notice.  A teacher can be home sick or on vacation but the center will still be able to take your child. The downside of a daycare center is that different people will be working with your child. Daycare centers tend to have high staff turnover.

When you contact them, you’ll want to know if they have any openings for your child’s age.  If they don’t have a spot immediately, ask if your child can be put on a waiting list. After availability, you’ll need to know:

  • Hours
  • Weekly rate (do you pay the same amount regardless of if the child attends or not?)
  • When is the payment due?
  • What methods of payment are acceptable?
  • Do they offer any discounts (employee discounts for large area companies, discounts for paying a month at a time, sibling discounts)
  • Location
  • Is the provider licensed?
  • If you have a school-age child, is transportation to and from school available?

If the provider’s information is fitting your needs so far, you can get more specific:

  • What kind of security system do they have? Parents should have to check in at the front desk before going to the children’s rooms.
  • What kind of discipline do they use?
  • Are there any preschool activities?
  • What activities do the kids do during the day?
  • Do the children play outside?
  • Do the children go on field trips?
  • Are babies fed on demand or on a schedule?
  • If you have a baby or toddler, do they potty train? What method is used (does it match your own plan for your child?)

There are other subjects to consider, that are a bit more delicate, and are really more personal preference items:

  • Religion – how does the provider handle Christmas and Easter, for example?
  • What kind of food is served? What is a typical meal?
  • How often do they receive sweets or candy?
  • How much time will they typically spend watching T.V. or movies? What kind of programming will they watch when they do watch something?
  • What role does music/art/science play in the daycare?

You may want to search online for the daycare center, to check for news items regarding the center. Also check the Better Business Bureau:  www.bbb.org

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Interviewing with a Daycare Provider

girl_in_grassWhen you visit a potential daycare provider for your child, you don’t necessarily need a checklist. After all, you have already prepared your own home for your baby and you know how to spot the hazards in an environment. When you visit a friend’s house with your child, don’t you automatically move breakables and lit candles out of reach? If you are uncomfortable around someone, trust your parenting instincts. It may take some searching, but you will find someone suitable to take care of your child during the day. Here is some information on what to  look for when you visit the home:

  • Is the house clean?
  • Are the toys mostly educational?
  • What kind of preschool curriculum do they do?
  • Does the environment seem warm and inviting?
  • Do you see normal safety equipment (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, baby gates, outlet covers, etc.)?
  • Is the bathroom child-friendly? Are there stools for reaching the sink, is the soap easy to use, and are there potty chairs for potty trainers?
  • Is there an area outdoors for running, jumping, playing?
  • If the child will be in the provider’s car, ask about car seats/booster seats
  • Is there enough parking for multiple parents dropping off or picking up children at the same time?
  • Can the provider give you the names and numbers of some parents for referrals?

The daycare should have a handbook. If a daycare seems promising but you’d like to go home and think about it, ask if you can have a copy of the handbook. It should be chock full of specific information including:

  • Fees for picking up the child later than the agreed-upon time
  • When the daycare is closed (holidays and vacations)
  • When the child will be sent home or cannot attend daycare due to sickness (usually a state regulation)
  • How contract termination is handled (how many weeks’ notice is required)

There are other subjects to consider, that are a bit more delicate, and are really more personal preference items:

  • Religion – how does the provider handle Christmas and Easter, for example?
  • What kind of food is served? What is a typical meal?
  • How often do they receive sweets or candy?
  • How much time will they typically spend watching T.V. or movies? What kind of programming will they watch when they do watch something?
  • What role does music/art/science play in the daycare?

Check into your state’s rules and regulations regarding insurance in the case of a car accident. In some states the owner of the car insurance must carry Personal Injury Protection insurance that will pay for your child’s injuries. In some states, your child must be covered under a health insurance plan, but the provider’s liability insurance may pay for the child’s injuries.

Interviewing with a Provider
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