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Celebrate Earth Day with Daycare

magic_tree_2Earth Day is today, April 22nd, and it is a great time to celebrate our planet and talk to your kids about Earth Day, the environment, being “green”, and what you can do to make this a better place for us all to live. Hopefully your daycare providers are doing something special for Earth Day but if they aren’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something for Earth Day with your child! Preschools often have many activities around Earth Day but some in-home daycare’s may not. So be sure to ask your childcare provider what, if anything, they are doing for Earth Day.

It is so important for us all to be good environmental stewards of our planet. There is no time better to instill these great values then through some great parenting advise with your kids. This can and should be fun for the whole family! No matter how “green” you are now you can always be “greener” and your children, and their children will be better off for it.

Earth Day is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as a national day of observance of environmental problems held on April 22, 1970. While this first Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day.

Biscuit's Earth Day Celebration
Biscuit's Earth Day Celebration

Check your local area for earth day events that you can participate in. Many of the events may be centered around local parks or other outdoor areas. Check your local papers or news outlets for schedules of events.

Fancy Nancy: Every Day Is Earth Day

If you can’t find an official event, take the time to make your own. When you pick up your child from daycare today take them to the park and make a game out of cleaning up the trash. If you get home to late for this talk to your children about planting a garden. Talk to them about how you can grow your own fruit or vegetables. This could turn into a fun activity for the family, become a project of responsibility and teach your children many valuable lessons throughout the summer.

Here are some other great ideas:

  • Discuss with your child what they could do to help the earth.
  • Read a book or story to your child about being environmentally responsible.
  • Change out wasteful electronics for energy efficient ones. Replace old incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, clean out your furnace filter or look into energy efficient electronics.
  • Make sure you use biodegradable soaps and cleaning products.
  • Go over green practices in the home such as:
    • Open the curtains instead of turning on a light.
    • Turn off lights when you leave the room.
    • Thinking about what you want from the refrigerator without opening it.
    • Use washable containers for leftovers instead of disposable bags.
    • Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels.
  • Think of cold meals you can have instead of meals you have to cook.
  • Make sure you are signed up with your trash company for recycling.
  • Recycle everything you can, not just aluminum cans including glass, plastic, paper, batteries and bulbs.
  • Plant some trees.
  • Plant a garden with your favorite vegetables.
  • Start composting. Your children may love this and will enjoy helping you. Use this for your summer garden projects!

It's Earth Day!

The most important step is to limit our effect on the environment. The easiest step is conservation. Once that step is taken, we can work to repair the damage that we have already done, and help mitigate future damage. As avid camping and outdoor enthusiasts, we have a passion for our planet and it is up to all of us to do our part to make this a better world for all of us. Let’s strive to give our children a better Earth than what we have today. Happy Earth Day!

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Daycare Car Seat Safety

baby-in-carseatAs a responsible and caring parent, your child’s well-being is foremost on your mind. Car seats play a very important role in keeping your child safe in one of the most dangerous activities they will ever be a part of: riding in a car. Automobile injuries are the leading cause of death for American children (http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/childpas.htm). A recent report, released by the American Academy of Pediatrics and based primarily off of a 2007 study by the University of Virginia, showed that children under two years of age are 75% less likely to sustain a severe injury in a car accident if they are in a rear facing position.

Most parents, as well as daycare centers and private daycares, currently use age as their primary factor when determining how and if a child should be restrained in a car seat. Previous to this study, it was recommended that a child should be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of one year. At one year of age, many children’s car seats are turned around so they can face forward. Turning the child’s car seat around was often a major milestone for parents.

Fisher-price Precious Planet Remote Controlled Music Deluxe Auto Baby
Fisher-price Precious Planet Remote Controlled Music Deluxe Auto Baby

This new study and the suggestion of the American Academy of Pediatrics indicate children are much safer if they are kept in a rear-facing position for one more year. Though the convenience of turning your child around to face forward is tempting, we would urge you to follow the new recommendation. The rear-facing position is much safer for your child in a car accident because their entire body is supported during a crash. Keeping your child in a rear-facing position might even help you avoid crashes since you’ll be less inclined to take your attention from the road by turning around to look at your child.

Since driving is such a normal part of our lives, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it is. Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do, so as responsible parents we need to be sure we are taking every precaution while driving to make sure we are being as safe as possible.

It’s important to address these new findings with your daycare provider. It is likely they already know about them, but it is important to make sure. You may want to ask what kind, if any, policy changes they will be making. Be sure that they are being as safety-minded as any other responsible adult.

Graco Zurich Snugride 32 Infant Car Seat
Graco Zurich Snugride 32 Infant Car Seat

If your daycare provider drives your child anywhere, it is important to know how they are doing this and that they are keeping up with all modern safety precautions. Be sure to also check what kind of car seat they are using for your child. Make sure the car seat is installed correctly and facing the right way. Your child should have an assigned car seat and it should be adjusted correctly for them.

Check to make sure your own accommodations are as safe as possible and that you are setting a good example by wearing your seat belt and talking with your children about car safety. If you teach your children about car safety they can and will police themselves. They may tell you if they did something dangerous or were not strapped in for a short trip.

Remember, as a responsible parent your job is to make sure your child is as safe as possible. It is your responsibility to speak to your daycare provider, change your own habits or inform your nanny of the changes in care for the safety of your child. Make sure you do what you can to ensure a long, happy and healthy life for you and your children.

 

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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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Foster Excitement in Daycare Age Children on Presidents Day

With Presidents day in the United States, it is a great time to talk to you children some about who and what a president is. It is likely your daycare and childcare will have many activities today revolving around Presidents Day. Capitalize on the opportunity to stir your children’s interest in presidents and a democratic government. It is important for everyone, including our children, to know who and what they are. It is never too early to begin to teach them the wider world and how it run and controlled by the government. Make sure to illustrate how a democracy is a government of the people and working for the people. In a democratic government the people have the power to control how the government helps the people.

If I Were President
A great book to get your children thinking about presidents.

I know it can be all too tempting to avoid politics and government when speaking to others and your children. However, doing this is a great disservice to you, to your children, and the world around you as a whole. Government and politics is what make our world work and it is very important to make sure that everyone is involved. Try to get your child interested in politics. Teach your children in a democratic society how each person gets a vote on how things are run by the government. Explain to your child who carries out those decisions, such as the president. Make sure to teach them how empowered everyone in democratic society can be. Instill a sense of duty and civic responsibility in your children so they will grow up to be good stewards of the country. These are some of the values to hold dear as they are the core of society.

President From Hawaii
Dr. Carolan's latest children's book explores the 44th President's history.

I do warn heavily against injecting any of your own opinions on the current political climate or the governments inner workings today. Daycare age children need to learn the basic function and idea behind government. Children need to understand the process. Your children need to learn the importance of how democracy should provide for its people and how the government goes about doing that. If you interject bitterness, frustration or anger in these discussions you will inadvertently associate these feelings with politics and the government. This is something you should work to avoid. To assure a bright future for your children and the generations of their children after we all must do our best to make the voters of tomorrow excited to be a part of a democracy. So just remember, teach your daycare age children the what and how of democracy and how the presidents lead these nations.

The Everything Kids' Presidents
Filled with fun facts, trivia, and 30 puzzles!

A great place to start would be to talk about our current president of the United States of America, President Barak Obama. Here is a list of quick facts that you can use in your discussion. You can also talk about thee many great presidents in our nations history. There are many worth discussing. After you are done with President Obama look up some interesting facts from your own favorite president.

  • President Barack Obama
  • 44th President of the United States of America
  • Born August 4, 1961 (1961-08-04)
  • He is 49 years old.
  • He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • He is a member of the Democratic Party.
  • His wife is called the First Lady. Her name is Michelle Obama.
  • He lives in The White House. This is where all American Presidents live when they are in office.
Woman For President
In 1872, American women couldn’t vote, but they could run for president.

Talk to them about democratic processes and how they work. You can even take this a step further and demonstrate to your daycare age child how it works. Maybe the family can vote on dinner or what game to play. Vote for a President for a day. That President can be in charge of who is cleaning up what at playtime.

Just keep in mind that your job as a parent of daycare age children is to teach them of the world and get them excited about all the important things that will make a difference in their lives.

Big George
Before he was the face on the dollar bill, George Washington was a shy boy with a hot temper.

As parenting advice from www.decideondaycare.com we hope that you will take this to heart and get your children excited and interested in democracy. It is an incredibly important and vital part of our way of life and as it will be your children’s. Foster the excitement and hope that will only serve to make any democracy a better place for its people.

Happy Presidents Day!

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Valentine’s Day at Daycare

valentineValentine’s Day is coming up soon and it’s important that you and your child are prepared for whatever your daycare may be planning. Often times daycare centers have big Valentine’s Day celebrations with crafts, activities, and treats for the kids. Make sure you’re prepared and your child is prepared for the fun day at daycare. It can be quite awkward for child to arrive to special days like this at daycare and not be prepared along with the other children. Missing out on Valentine’s for everyone at the daycare or treats to share with them can be quite sad for your child and embarrassing for you.

Just as with other celebrations at daycare it’s important to touch base with your provider to find out what they prefer to do for their own daycare’s Valentine Day celebration. Depending on if you take them to a childcare center or an in-home daycare provider it is important to know what kind of celebration the children are going to have. Even if you have a nanny or a babysitter that watches your children just for a few hours, make sure that you are ready for this fun day.

Make sure that you child brings a valentine for everyone in their class at daycare. You might even make a couple extra ones just in case there is a mix up. Be sure to talk to day care provider to find out how many to make or get a list of all of the children so they can be addressed to them. When you approach your daycare provider about this information, make sure to touch base on what the Valentines Day celebration will be like and if there is anything you can do to help. You may be asked to bring some treats or something more specific for whatever the daycare may have planned for your children. Talk to them early to make sure you’re ready because you’re likely need to prepare some things for child ahead of time.

It’s a great opportunity to talk to your child about Valentine’s Day and why we celebrate those around us that we care for. It’s a good time to reinforce the idea that selfless giving to others and the celebration of your friendship is what holidays like this are all about. Valentine’s Day is not about getting candy, treats or little stuffed animals. Valentine’s Day is about making a conscious effort to show appreciation for others. Continue to instill these types of values in your children and watch how quickly they grow up into wonderful people.

Daycare Crafting Ideas for Valentine's Day
Check out this great guide to fun crafts!

It is a lot of fun for the whole family to sit down and craft valentines for each other, those at daycare, and even those that might be in your office, workplace or neighborhood. It can be a lot of fun to pull out the crafts and come up with Valentine’s Day cards for each other. Your children will love the time with you and you can help them make special valentines.

Be sure to have your child create a special Valentine’s Day card for their daycare provider, teacher, nanny or babysitter. They will certainly enjoy the special attention from your child and will be touched to be included. This is the icing on the cake for life lessons and why we recognize each other and give without thought of receiving.

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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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