Selecting a Reliable Child Care Provider
With summer rolling closer, and many parents returning to the office, your family may be looking for child care. Yet, finding someone who you trust to take care of your children while you are not there can be nerve-wracking. What qualities should you be looking for? And, once you have hired someone, how can you make sure they are both prepared, and trustworthy?
You should screen anyone who supervises your child. The following are some things to consider when choosing a child care provider.
References and Background
This step is crucial when vetting prospective providers. Ask for the names and phone numbers of other families for whom they have previously worked. And then make sure to actually call the parents-- find out what they think of the provider and how their kids felt as well. Inquire if there were ever any problems and if there were negative circumstances that influenced the departure of the provider.
Ask the prospective child care provider about their level of training. Have they completed courses for infant and child CPR--and can they provide proof? Have they ever taken child care courses?
This is the area that can help you get to know how they discipline, reward, and interact with kids and see if it matches your own philosophy. How do they handle fights between siblings? What do they do when a child is crying?
Family Specific Questions
Be sure to ask questions that are geared specifically towards your own family’s needs. For example, if the provider will need to drive the kids to activities, do they have a clean driver’s record? Do they have experience with kids your children’s age, and how much?
Drugs and Alcohol
Never leave a child in the care of someone who is using drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol under-mine a person’s judgment.
After vetting the prospective child care provider, have them come over for 30 minutes to an hour to see how they interact with your kids. Afterwards, ask your kids if they liked them and felt comfortable with them.
Prepping the Provider
You’ve found the child care provider that best fits your children and family’s needs. Now What?
Discuss with the provider about your family safety rules. This should include touching safety rules. Explain that you have taught your child to tell you when any of the rules are broken, even if the child has been told to keep it a secret. (Note: make sure that you have indeed taught your children about safety rules, and have had a recent discussion with them before leaving them in the care of a new child care provider).
Be sure to leave important contact information where the provider can access it easily. This information should include phone numbers (including your number, family members’, friends’, neighbors’, and doctor’s number). Additionally, write out your home address in case of emergencies.
Help ensure that your child care provider is prepared for any situation. Show them where you keep a signed consent for certain emergency medical care. Review the first aid kit and where you keep it. Discuss any allergies your kids have or medicines (quantities and time) your children need to take while you’re gone.
If your child care provider will be caring for your children in your home, be sure to give them a full house tour. Be sure to point out all exits, as well as where fire extinguishers are located.
House Rules and Routines
Discuss house rules you may have. Perhaps there is a no junk food rule after dinner, or your children aren’t allowed to use certain words—whatever they are, keep your provider in the loop. Additionally, explain each of your children’s typical routines that are necessary for the new provider to know--what time they wake up or go to sleep, what time activities take place, what time they can have a snack. Kids like routine, and having a new child care provider shouldn’t mean everything is uprooted.
Once your child care provider is prepped and begins caring for your children, there are a few things you should consistently do to stay involved and keep communication open with them:
When you get home, whether you were gone all day at work, or just gone for a couple hours for date night, be sure to check in with the provider before they leave. Discuss how the day went and how the kids behaved.
Communicate with Your Kids
It’s important to consistently discuss how your children are feeling about their child care provider. Ask them if they like the provider or if they do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or weird. If your child says yes, make sure to ask for more information using open ended questions-- "can you tell me more about that?". Do not leave your child with someone that they don't like or are not comfortable around.
Call Your Children
Another way to check in with your kids is to call your child while you are out. Check in on how they’re feeling and what is happening.
Drop By Unexpectedly
Sometimes, it’s helpful to see how things are going in person, rather than relying on secondhand accounts. You can do this by occasionally returning home early or unexpectedly.
At All Times
Trust your instincts!
If at any point--whether it is during the interviewing process or a couple months into the hiring--you feel funny about leaving your kids with this person (beyond the typical separation feeling) trust your gut! It’s best not to take chances with your children’s safety.