Tag Archives: Day Care

Daycare and Emergency Disasters

Daycare Art HouseIt is always important to have a disaster plan, and it is even more important to know your daycare’s disaster plan. At Decide on Daycare, we will help you talk to your daycare provider to be sure they have a safe and effective disaster plan in place. More important is that you know what this disaster plan is and can help them with it.

Why have a disaster plan for daycare?

Natural disasters are few and far between but that doesn’t mean that you should not be prepared for them. It can be devastating to be stuck in the middle of a natural disaster, separated from your children, with no idea or plan in place to make contact and assure they are safe.

As the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan have demonstrated, natural disasters can strike at anytime and anywhere. Even if the disaster happens thousands of miles away, it can still affect you.

Make sure you speak to your daycare provider about their disaster plan. If they don’t have one, work with your daycare provider to create one for use in case the unthinkable should happen.

Daycare’s Disaster Plan

How to Prepare for Disaster
How to Prepare for Disaster

Where you live and when you use daycare will determine what kinds of disasters you may encounter. Some of the major ones you should think about are listed below.

Natural Disasters

  • Blizzards
  • Earthquakes
  • Fire
  • Flooding
  • Hurricanes
  • Ice Storms
  • Power Outages
  • Rock and Mud Slides
  • Tornados
  • Tsunamis
  • Typhoons

You should also consider a general disaster plan which will be the fall back plan should any of the ones listed not apply. Your general disaster plan should cover events that may not be natural or expected.

Though the possibility exists for different disasters in your area, it does not automatically mean that you should have a different plan for each one. Many of the major details of the disaster plan should be the same but you need to be ready for and prepare for each disaster that can happen in your area.

Some things that must be considered for all disaster plans are:

  • Contact Numbers – Each member of the immediate family should have contact numbers for each other. You should also pick one family member who lives out of state that your family can contact if your household is not together when an emergency situation occurs.
  • Emergency Information – Each member of the family should carry a card showing their doctors, what medication the person takes on a regular basis, chronic conditions, and any allergies they have.
  • Common Meeting Place – Designate an area to meet. If you have a child at daycare, decide who will pick up the child or if you plan to meet at the daycare. If you have children in different locations, such as one in school and one in daycare, decide which parent will pick up which child or if you will meet the other parent and pick children up together.

Reinforce the Disaster Plan with your Children

Lifeline Disaster Kit
Lifeline Disaster Kit

If you work with your daycare and their disaster plan you can modify your own home and family disaster plan to be similar to your daycare’s. This will help the children remember what to do in case of a disaster. There are many things that the disaster plans can include, but remember to keep what your child needs to know to the basics. You do not want them being confused in a scary disaster situation. You want them to act decisively off of simple directions. This could help to save their life and even the lives of those around them.

Be sure to rehearse these with your whole family and try to make sure that your daycare rehearses their daycare disaster plan as well. It might seem silly to have fire drills like they do at school and some work places. The fact is these drills save lives. So be sure to run through your disaster emergency plan at least twice a year. As soon as your children can walk on their own they can learn how to escape a burning house.

Make sure you have a disaster plan for your own home.

First Alert Household Fire Extinguisher
First Alert Household Fire Extinguisher

We have focused specifically on your daycare disaster plan here at Decide on Daycare but it is also very important to have a detailed and prepared disaster plan for you and your family at home. You should go into a few more specifics and make sure you are prepared for emergencies.

Make sure you show your children how to escape the house. Make sure they know how to escape their own rooms if they need to in case of a fire. Talk to a trusted neighbor and explain to your children that this is the neighbor they need to immediately go to if they can’t find their parents. Make sure that you have first aid kits, a fire extinguisher on every floor, and other emergency equipment on hand. Show your children how to use this various equipment as they grow up.

It may be hard to fit daycare disaster planning into your busy schedule, but as a responsible parent you need to find the time. With a little bit of planning you can save your child’s life and even you own. Be ready should the unthinkable happen. Hopefully you will never have to use your daycare disaster plan but you will be very thankful if you are prepared.

 

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Can You Be Your Own Daycare

daycare_chalkboardThere is so much thought and effort that goes into figuring out all the particulars of daycare that I think many parents skip right over the simplest question of all, “Is daycare right for our family?” Decide on Daycare will help you evaluate if daycare is right for you. It may be surprising how much of your income goes into paying for daycare while you are at work. More importantly, you may be missing the most crucial time in your child’s life.

Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and examine the situation from a whole new perspective.

The Social Cost of Daycare

Other People Raising Your Children

Daddy, Do My Socks Match?
Daddy, Do My Socks Match?

One major factor to consider is that your daycare provider will become a very influential and powerful force in your child’s life. This can be both good and bad but the fact of the matter is that this daycare provider will be a huge influence on your child’s life, and will aid in the raising of your child. Your child will spend 1/2 to 3/4 or more of their waking hours with this daycare provider. This means they will be learning, growing and developing under this daycare provider’s guidance. Do you have the confidence that the daycare provider will do a good job in this very important role? Do you think that as a parent, you have the confidence and knowledge to provide the proper care for your child in this fashion? These might be tougher questions to ask and even tougher to answer. However, no question should be off limits when your child’s well being is at stake.

Your Child’s Formative Years

Most child psychologists agree that the first few years of our lives is the most important to forge who we are and our attitudes, ideas and morals throughout adulthood. This can be so important and it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure these years are done right. Whether you choose daycare or not you must be sure that whatever your choice is, you are secure in the fact that whoever it is that takes care of your children do so in some sort of accordance with your own wishes. This is something that all parents must take on a bit of faith should they have daycare for their children. It is something that parents that take care of their children don’t have to worry about.

Forging Bonds That Last a Lifetime

Parent Handbook on Getting Children Ready for Learning
Parent Handbook on Getting Children Ready for Learning

The first few years of your child’s life will set them on their path throughout their life. These few years are also when they will cement their bonds with those around them. Many mothers and fathers choose to stay home during the early years of the children’s lives to make sure their focus is on their children. Time does go by quickly, and in only a few short years your baby will be attending school all day. Most parents have about a six-year window with their children and choose to focus on that, while putting a career on hold.

The Cost of Daycare to your Sanity

Can you be a stay at home parent?

If you’ve thought through the financials of this question it is now time to consider if staying at home with your children truly interests you. It is now time to ask one of the hardest questions that I think parents have a hard time answering honestly, “Can I be a stay at home parent?”

This can be a very tricky one to answer but you must look at it from every angle before you make the decision.

  • Can you be around your children 24/7 or do you need and enjoy a break?
  • Are you a parent that can have little adult interaction?
  • Do you have the ambition to stay at home with them?
  • Do you have the knowledge or can you educate yourself on all of the up to date parenting techniques and philosophies?
  • Can you become not only your child’s parent but their teacher too?
  • Will you be willing to have play dates with other parents and children?
  • Are you willing to put your career on hold until they are in school full time?
  • Can you put your career on hold?
  • Will your family have health insurance if you are not working for a company that provides it?
  • Will you resent your children if your choice to stay at home with them ends up impacting your chances if you decide to work outside the home again?

Being a stay at home parent is not easy, but it is rewarding.

School Starts at Home
School Starts at Home

These are just a few of the questions a parent needs to answer before the decision to stay at home can be made. It will be a huge change, but it can be a good one. There is something satisfying about having a career and leaving your children with qualified daycare providers to take care of them and prepare them for school.

However, there is also the option of being a stay at home parent. There is something special about being the one to see them through all of their early life’s milestones. There is a pride that comes with teaching your own child to read, to write, and to count. There is a bond that is formed with your children when you are their parent and their teacher. And there is also the peace that comes with knowing they are with the person you trust the most. Yourself.

It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly but one alternative to daycare that many parents find rewarding not only when they do stay at home but are rewarded throughout their lives. You will probably work harder, longer hours as a stay at home parent. You will not get breaks or raises. You will not get any vacations. You will, however get a chance to bond with your children in a way few parents do.

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Is Daycare Right For You?

girl_in_grass_2There is so much thought and effort that goes into figuring out all the particulars of daycare that I think many parents skip right over the simplest question of all, “Is daycare right for our family?” Decide on Daycare will help you evaluate if daycare is right for you.

It might seem like a no-brainer but the fact of the matter is, with the cost of daycare, the decline in wages, and the expansion of urban sprawl it may very well be that you are only working to pay for daycare. Some new stay-at-home parents have found themselves looking at this option in a new light after finding themselves unexpectedly unemployed in a bad job market.

Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and examine the situation from a whole new perspective.

Financial Cost of Daycare

The Cost of Daycare Itself

You may be spending more on daycare than you think you are. If you’re spending $250 a week for an infant and $200 a week on a toddler, that’s 450 a week. If you calculate your monthly bill, that’s $1,800 a month, which means you’re paying $21,600 a year! So if you or your partner makes less than $22,000 a year, you are losing money by taking your child to daycare.

The Expense of Going to Work

Don’t overlook the cost of actually going to work and what it costs to have a career. You need to consider what it costs in gas and tolls, wear and tear on your car, clothes, shoes, salon costs, and other miscellaneous purchases. You need to also look at your food expenses. Do you buy coffee every morning? Do you go out to eat with co-workers? These can quickly add up to thousands of dollars more you spend a year just to have a job.

The Hidden or Secondary Expenses of Working

Stay-at-Home-Parent's Survival Guide
Stay-at-Home-Parent's Survival Guide

These can vary widely depending on your career. You may incur extra babysitting costs when you have to work late. You have limited time off from your job, so you may end up taking vacations during peak times where airfare, hotels and entertainment prices are at their highest. There can be many more examples of this type of secondary expense but it is important for you to consider these when thinking of the financial effect of daycare.

Take all of these into consideration and you can easily go through the equivalent of an annual salary of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. If you factor in long commutes, premiere preschool academies and a large amount of work expenses, and the cost can go to $50,000 a year or more. Take it all into consideration when calculating the total amount that working actually will cost you. It’s likely that you may be working just to pay for daycare.

This is just the financial aspect of looking at whether or not you should be a stay at home parent. In the next article Decide on Daycare will go into the social aspects and the more difficult questions to ask yourself.

In the meantime visit the Determining Your Needs for Daycare for a more in-depth look at the different daycare types and great parenting advice on what would be best for you.

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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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Day Care Donations Teach Your Child Giving

toy-messWith the holiday season coming to an end, it’s time to think about getting back on the normal day care schedule. But what to do with the pile of new and old gifts that your child has surely accumulated through the season? Don’t throw them away! The season of giving need not come to an end so soon and Decide on Day Care is here to help!

This is a great opportunity to set aside the old books and toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore. You can also clear out items that are too “young” for them and set those aside.  Lots of other parents would love to have your child’s gently used toys and books.

You have some options regarding what to do with these items. Make a quick list of what you have available to give, and drop it off with your daycare provider. They can let you know if they want some or all of the items, and they can mark on the list which ones the day care could use.  They may or may not want anything that you have collected, but they’ll be touched that you thought of them.

Kids are fickle and often forget about what they have.  They often never know an item is gone. For younger kids, probably three and under, you can go through their old things when they are napping or late at night when they are in bed. This helps to avoid many of the strange fights you are sure to have over a toy your child forgot they even had! You can put the items aside for awhile, and if they ask about it, it can be retrieved. After a certain amount of time, you’ll be able to get rid of the items.

Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World
How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World

For older children, going through their old toys is an excellent opportunity to teach them about giving and what it means to give to others.  Pull out a bag and explain to them that they are running out of room for all of their toys and there are others that could use them more.  Make sure they know that they are giving these away and they will not see them again.  Help them with process of thinking about a certain book or toy, and ask them questions about the toy: When was the last time you played with this? Do you think another little boy or girl will play with it more? These are important analyzing skills and will help them their whole lives!  Make sure to praise your children for their selfless acts and generosity.  This small activity can really  bolster the strong and important traits we want in our kids.

This is a great thing to do for new and old toys, and duplicate toys, books and games that you are bound to get.  You may even repeat this process during their birthday or other special events where they may get an influx of new things.

If your day care provider or the local child care centers do not want your donations,  save them and give them to a local charity.  You will be doing a great service for the families and  children in your area and is much better than any of this ending up in a landfill.

If you give these items to a charity, save the list of what you have donated. Everything you donate is tax deductible and it can be fairly surprising how simple donations like this through the year can really add up.

You can even take this one step further and as a parent go through your own things.  Show your child that you do the same thing you asked them to do. It shows them that you enjoy giving to others as much as you enjoy their choice in giving.

For more great tips stop by Decide on Day Care’s Parenting Tips section!

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