Tag Archives: in-home

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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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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Daycare Research Spreadsheet

daycare-spreadsheet

When I first tried to find daycare for my children, I realized how difficult it was to keep track of my findings about each of the daycare providers, and it wasn’t easy to compare the different providers.

I learned so much information as I interviewed them over the phone. There were many questions I asked the daycare providers as I interviewed them on the phone: Does that daycare have a preschool curriculum? Did that daycare have any pets? What was the childcare provider’s discipline style?  Were there any smokers in the house?  What were their hours?  So I created a spreadsheet to track all this information I collected during the phone interviews.  I also collected information from the local United Way and other organizations that had information on daycare providers specific to my area.

Ecosystem Grid Journal
Ecosystem Grid Journal

This tool became invaluable. I realized I could look at different daycare providers at a glance and see which ones fit our needs better.  When I became tired of calling providers, my wife could see where I had left off, call more providers on the list, and fill in the information we needed. It was such a helpful tool for us, I hope that it can help you in your own search for daycare. The spreadsheet includes costs, extra fees, and some of the more common questions you’ll ask. There are also several places for miscellaneous daycare information for any specific questions you may have.

Download the spreadsheet and save it to your computer. Fill out as much detail as you’d like…I would suggest being very detailed.  You need to have enough information on the sheet to make a decision between many daycare providers.  If your notes are too generic it will be difficult to see differences between providers. Specific references to the conversation may jog your memory about the provider.  It is possible that you may need to return to your daycare search sooner than expected. If it hasn’t been long since you started, your spreadsheet will be very helpful to you, and providers who didn’t have openings when you began looking may have an opening six months later.

Make sure to have this spreadsheet open and ready when you start making your phone calls and start investigating the specifics of each daycare provider.  This spreadsheet can be used for preschools, daycare centers, nannies and even babysitters.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  We would also love to hear any feedback you may have, including suggestions about items that we could add or change to make it more useful.

Good luck tracking down your perfect daycare! This extra effort will be well worth the reward of finding the perfect daycare or preschool for you!

Click here to download the spreadsheet. (This does not have any macros in it.)

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Daycare & Preschool Supplies You May Need

daycare-crayon-scatterWhether your child will be attending a daycare center or an in-home childcare provider, you will need to furnish some initial supplies.

You’ll need to provide at least one set of clothes. It’s a good idea to give your provider one “summer” outfit and one “winter” outfit, and an extra pair of shoes. Make sure the clothes can be stored with the daycare provider or at the preschool until they’re needed, and that you won’t miss them if you don’t get them back for awhile (or at all) .  Kids are very active and get dirty at daycare. Depending on the specific activities your daycare offers, you may need to provide a few other things such as a swimsuit, sportswear or winter weather gear such as heavy coats, gloves, and a set of winter boots.  If your child comes home in the extra clothes, be sure to wash them right away and return them to the daycare provider. You don’t want to leave your child without an extra set of clean and warm clothes.

Diapers

Luvs Diapers
Luvs Diapers

If your child is still in diapers you’ll need to make sure that the daycare provider remains well stocked with diapers and everything else you need for a diaper change:

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper rash cream (many providers will require you to sign a permission slip)
  • An extra set of clothes (your baby or toddler should ideally have two sets of clothes there)
  • Plastic tub to keep everything in (if the provider wants one)

For babies, you’ll need to provide expressed breast milk each day, or provide the baby’s formula. It’s a good idea to provide some formula even if you are pumping—babies enter growth spurts without warning and the provider may use up your entire day’s milk supply before the day is over!

The daycare may keep track of feeding and diaper changes for infants. It’s helpful to see how much food your child is consuming, and when, and if they are being changed at regular intervals and having regular bowel movements. They should also note the time they go down for a nap and what time they wake up.   It’s also helpful to know about the basic mood of the child for the day, what kind of activities they did, if the provider noticed any progress with milestone activities (lifting head, rolling over, crawling, etc). It’s difficult to remember to tell the parent everything that happened in the day when the child is picked up, and many states require that the provider keep track of this information each day.  It’s especially helpful to have this information when you get home and realize you have absolutely no idea when your child will need to eat again.

Medications and Special Needs

Millions of parents have a child with some kind of special need.  You may need to provide medication or equipment and instructions on how to use it.  If you’ve contracted with a provider, you will have already discussed their willingness to work with your child’s needs. If your provider seems to be hesitant or having second thoughts when they begin working with your child, you may need to reevaluate whether your child should really be attending this particular daycare. Childcare providers today should be experienced with handling the more prevalent special needs, such as food allergies and ADHD. For less prevalent and more intensive needs, it may be a more difficult search. Regardless, after evaluating their own capacity and agreeing to take your child, they should be ready and willing to work with you, and keep you updated on how everything is going.

Almost all daycare providers will require you to fill out a permission form for any medications or treatments they will need to give during the day.   When you return the permission slip and the medication or treatment information, you may also want to provide a simple, typed explanation of the dosage or steps of the treatment. It’s good to have a reference to verify they are doing the right thing. In a daycare center, you don’t always know which teacher will be working with your child, so it would be nice for all the teachers to have access to the instructions.  Your providers should already be certified in first aid and should know how to handle allergic reactions, minor injuries or other common ailments with children.

It’s up to you to be clear with the provider regarding your needs as well as your child’s needs.  Tell them under what circumstances they should contact you.  Whether your child has allergies, asthma or another condition, be sure to cover the warning signs and what the provider’s course of action needs to be.  When you are contacted by the daycare provider during one of these times, keep a level head.  The daycare provider needs to know that you appreciate the honesty up front and contacting you right away.  Give them advice if they need it and thank them for letting you know what happened and for taking care of it.

Other Supplies

Sometimes daycare providers will have special projects and may ask the parents to bring something special to daycare.  For a fall project, you might need to have your child collect colorful leaves from your yard, or you might need to provide some pictures of the family for a Father’s Day present.  If the daycare provider has a rich preschool program, you may need to help keep the kids supplied with school supplies.

These things, like so many others, never seem to come up until you are expected to handle them immediately.  Hopefully this article will give you some insight into what is expected from you as a parent. Should your daycare provider ask for much more support, such as asking you to provide all a child’s food for child with a few food allergies, I would suggest looking for other daycare.  There are many quality providers who can accommodate your child’s needs.

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Daycare Features at a Glance

daycare_kid_mousingMaking the decision between a day care center, at-home daycare, and a nanny is difficult work. This chart shows some of the main features of different types of childcare. If you would like further information regarding specific items, please check the articles under Types of Daycare.

Child care Features

Daycare Center

In-Home Daycare

Nanny

Government regulations Yes Yes No
One-on-one attention No No Yes
Chance to interact with children of own age Yes Yes No
Multiple teachers Yes No No
Frequency of infectious illness Yes Yes No
Caregiver turnover Yes No Yes
Individual focus on special needs (food allergy, etc.) No No Yes
Flexibility in the child’s routine No No Yes
Extended hours of operation Yes No No
Backup care if a provider can’t work (vacation, illness, etc.) Yes No No
Personal relationship between parent and provider No Yes Yes
Possibility of preschool curriculum Yes Yes Yes
Budget-minded Yes Yes No
Supervision of provider Yes No No
Family privacy Yes Yes No
Socializing with other children Yes Yes No
Convenience No No Yes
Home-like environment No Yes Yes
Control over rules and values No No Yes
Employee taxes and benefits, living arrangements, etc. No No Yes
Chance to meet other parents Yes Yes No
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The First Week at an In-Home Daycare

daycare_sidewalk_artThe first week in an in-home daycare will be a very important week for you, your child and the provider you chose.  You’ll have to get used to how each other handles the daily routine.  Make sure that you’ve talked to your child about the upcoming changes in their routine and the exciting new daycare they are about to attend.  This can be a difficult time for everyone as they adjust to this new change. Just remember to take it one day a time, be patient, and maintain open and honest communication.

Transitions for Young Children
Transitions for Young Children

It’s very important to make sure that you prepare yourself as well as your child for starting in this new in-home daycare.  Talk to your child frequently in the days leading up to beginning.  Answer any questions your child may have and make your best effort to help your child be comfortable with this idea.  They’ll be going into a stranger’s house with strange people and children they don’t know.  This can be very difficult for child who has known only comfort and familiar faces.

Routines and Transitions
Routines and Transitions

Make sure to schedule plenty of extra time in your daily schedule for this first week so you can properly drop your child off and pick them up.  Give yourself an extra fifteen minutes to a half an hour for both drop off and pick up for your first week.  For the drop-off, you will likely need to hang out with your child for awhile until they get comfortable with their new situation.  The new provider will probably get the child playing with the other children right away. This will help your child feel better about the new daycare.  When you pick them up make sure to speak with the daycare provider about the details of their day and how your child did.  Make sure to offer lots of praises to your child as this will surely help them to warm up to the new daycare.

The first week at the in-home daycare is your chance to make sure the standard of care is at your desired level.  This is the best time to make any adjustments for the long-term.  Most daycare providers will be very receptive to making some minor changes should it make the parents and the child happy.  If you see anything drastic, be sure to bring it up immediately so that it can be addressed.  Once a certain amount of time passes both your provider, and you, will have an unspoken agreement about how care is handled.  It’s easier to make minor adjustments during the first week.

 

Children Starting School
Children Starting School

During this first week you also want to make sure the daycare provider has all of the equipment and supplies they may need.  For younger children in diapers this means you’ll have to supply all the necessary things surrounding a diaper change: diapers, wet wipes, any creams or ointments.  You should also provide an extra set of clothes or two in case they get messy.  You may even need to supply an extra car seat should they take any trips.  Some daycare providers will also want you to leave coats, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen and possibly other things to help them take care of your child.  Make an effort to get all these to them as soon as possible.

 

Preschooler Problem Solver
Preschooler Problem Solver

The right in-home daycare can be the toughest to find. In home daycares can provide some of the most benefit once you find the right one for you.  It’s important to start early, remain diligent, and make sure that the daycare fits your needs.  If you make this effort, you’ll be rewarded by a high quality in-home daycare that will take great care of your children.  Hopefully a long lasting bond of friendship will forge between the children as well as you and the daycare provider. This kind of care can be ideal.  Bringing the social setting of a few kids together with the focused personal attention that children need and deserve, it is no wonder that in-home daycare is so popular and widely used.

 

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How to leave In-Home Daycare with a Smile

daycare-girl-pink-outfitIn-home daycares and the providers that run them are incredibly varied in their personalities, situations and how they run their own businesses.  This makes specific advice challenging due to the nature of everyone’s unique situation.  But there definitely some good rules of thumb to follow to finish up a relationship with an in-home daycare provider with a smile.

Make sure to plan ahead and around the contracted notice time.  This can be different between in-home daycare providers but is usually 2 to 4 weeks.  You will be responsible to pay for care from the time you give notice to the end of the time noted in the contract, even if you decide to pull your child out early.  This can often be a very sticky point between parents and the daycare providers which can sour the relationship instantly.  So make sure you are aware of the agreed-upon time frame and plan accordingly for it.  It is also a good idea to write up a quick friendly letter notifying a provider that you will be leaving.  Here’s an example letter you can use:

Dear (daycare provider’s name),

I wanted to thank you for all of the great care you have provided for (child’s name(s)).  I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know you and appreciate all you have done for our family. Unfortunately our circumstances have changed and our last day at daycare will be (date).

Thank you again!

Sincerely,

(name)

(signature)

(date)

It is very important to make sure that you speak to your child about the upcoming change in their routine.  On the Friday before their last week make sure that they are aware that the next week is going to be their last week at the daycare.  You can use the weekend to have them make some pictures or cards for their friends as well as one for the daycare provider.  This is a critical step in helping your child prepare for the changes to come.  You can try to make it easier for them with a good transition.  Make sure you remind them that this is their final week with the children and daycare provider they spent so much time with.  You may even want to do little extra to mark the event.   One final thing you can do is to make up some healthy and allergen-free treats to take  to daycare on the last day to help make a fun little going away party.  As a sign of your appreciation you might think about getting a gift for the daycare provider.

You might want to let the other parents at the daycare that your child is leaving, and collect their contact information so you can schedule future play dates or invite them to birthday parties. An in-home daycare setting is much more intimate than a childcare center and it’s likely that your child has built up some strong friendships and bonds.  If you have the ability to keep these friendships going after leaving the daycare provider, it may help the transition.

Keep these steps in mind to help make leaving your daycare provider easier. It will help to show your child some valuable skills about how to handle change in their lives.  Leaving with a smile will also leave a positive impression with your old daycare provider. This often reverberates through the local daycare community.  You never know what the future holds.  If you and your family are known in the neighborhood as friendly and polite, should you need daycare the future, you’ll have little trouble finding it.

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Your Time in an In-Home Daycare

daycare_reading_togetherIs very important to make sure you stay vigilant even after you’ve decided on what appears to be the best in-home daycare for your child’s needs.  This step is often neglected but it is one of the most important ways for you to ensure that your child is in a quality daycare.

In a childcare center, other faculty members can keep an eye on what’s going on with the children and each other. But in a person’s private home, it’s another story. The intimate personal setting of an in-home daycare can give your child a much stronger bond with a provider and the other children, and more specialized care but the private nature of the daycare can also come at a cost—nobody is there to report a questionable situation.

It is in your family’s best interest when picking up your children and dropping them off to actually take them inside of the daycare.  This allows you the opportunity to do a quick scan of the daycare for cleanliness, safety, and where the children spend most of the day.  Every so often, you should be able to wander some at the daycare to see where children will be.  Make sure to scan the main play area inside, the kitchen or where their food is prepared, the bathroom, and their outdoor play area.  All of these should remain clean and tidy during drop off and pick up.  The provider’s home should be clean and ready for the day in the morning, and at the end of the day, perhaps a bit cluttered with toys, but things should be tidied during the day. The older children can help more with cleaning up than the younger children, but picking up toys should definitely be a regular part of the day. The floors should be clear enough for people to walk on, meals should be cleaned up and table areas should be wiped down. A clean house is important for healthy and safe environment.

The Other Parents

It’s a good idea to learn the names of the other parents and their children that go to the daycare.  If you can get into a friendly relationship with them, you can work together to keep an eye on the daycare and your children.  These relationships can really be to your advantage when discussing situations with the daycare or with their kids.  It really is only a matter of time before the kids at the daycare are close friends.  But some children may develop problems with other children in the daycare. If you’ve already established a good relationship with the other parents, tackling a situation will be less awkward.

Ask About Their Day

Most daycare providers will generally write up a synopsis of their day or week.  If they don’t volunteer this, ask for one.  One of the advantages of enrolling your children in an in-home daycare is their flexibility to meet your needs.  An update of the day should be posted on an information board just inside the home.  It should include what their meals were for the day, what activities they did and any special events, such as field trips, birthdays or other celebrations.

You can ask the provider specifics about the day, should you need to, but for the most part, the written summary should be sufficient. The activities and preschool topics for the kids should be in line with what the provider promised during your interview with them.

The “Drop In”

Any daycare provider should allow you to visit at anytime.  This can be one of the most effective ways to get a true gauge of how the daycare is run.  During interviews, drop off and pick up, the daycare provider will be on their best behavior.  As a responsible parent for the well being of your child, you also need to be sure that these best practices are carried throughout the day.

It’s best to give your child a few weeks before you have your first drop in.  You don’t want to drop in until your child is more comfortable at the daycare, and knows the routine.  If they’re still nervous or unsure about the daycare, or don’t know the routine, your visit could cause quite the scene, and you don’t want to be the reason they have trouble acclimating. The best scenario is that your child sees you, possibly greets you, and then continues on about their business.  This gives you the opportunity to see how your child interacts with the other kids, how they interact with the provider, and what a normal day might be like.

I would recommend three or four of these visits spaced out about a month apart when you first start daycare.  This should help you to get a very accurate idea of how the daycare runs and how well your child is doing.  You can keep dropping in, but the first two or three visits are most important.  If you can avoid it don’t come on the same day at the same time every month.  You don’t want them to get used to when you’ll arrive and prepare for your visit.  The whole idea of the drop-in is that they’re not prepared for you, so you get a true view of the daycare center.

Dropping in is a very useful tool if you are concerned about the care your child is receiving.  The effectiveness of this visit will depend greatly on the amount of information you can get from your child.  You’ll need to find out if there’s a specific time, a specific child, or specific teacher that your issue might be with and make sure to coordinate your visit with that information.

Things to Look For:

  • An excess of candy or treats.
  • Excessive TV watching.
  • Free play time – This is definitely important for child development; however, the children shouldn’t just be stuck in a room and left to play all day long.  Structured and educational activities are very important.
  • Not having time to discuss the day regularly.
  • The provider sends your child out of the house to meet you instead of having  you pick them up inside.
  • Any talk of secrets from your child.

In-home daycare providers are usually less expensive than daycare centers and offer a very wide variety of care styles.  They are more oftentimes more flexible than centers and can often better accommodate special needs such as allergies or developmental disabilities. Your child will build stronger and longer lasting bonds with in-home daycare providers, which can be very beneficial.  It is very important for you to keep your eyes open and to remain constantly involved in their care.  Daycares are not inspected regularly and may only get a visit from a state investigator when a complaint has been filed. So it is very important that you act as the daily inspector for your child’s well being.

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