Finding affordable good quality care

Choosing the Right Childcare

by Debra Karplus

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Gone are the days of one parent, usually the mom, staying home to care for the little ones. Most young families today simply cannot afford such a luxury. According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 70% of married American moms over 25 years old leave the house for work each day. That number continues to grow annually. It's likely that your family is included in that statistic. So how does a family go about choosing the right childcare, affordable quality childcare, for their children when they are at work?

Having a sitter or nanny at your home gives you control, but often for a price.

If you are able to work remote from home, then you are very lucky. But as your little one enjoys more hours awake and becomes more mobile, it may become difficult getting anything done for your job unless someone comes in at least a few hours a day to give you some time to focus on work. Once you have interviewed and hired a dependable person who loves your child almost as much as you do, you can relax about things like rushed mornings while getting your little one fed and dressed, and you won't need to worry about it issues such as bullies or germs either.

A good sitter or nanny will provide quality one-to-one attention like nobody can. This trusted person will become like a third parent. But, frankly, most people do not have jobs that allow them to work from home.

Finding a reputable daycare or preschool requires some research both online and in person.

Daycare can be a wonderful experience for a child to learn social skills with a variety of children of different ages, backgrounds, and cultures. Some daycare facilities are located in homes of licensed providers. Others are in facilities and may even be part of a franchise or chain, such as KinderCare. If you search the websites of your local daycare centers, you may find bountiful information and photos, but often the prices and fees are difficult to locate, are not particularly straight forward, or are not even mentioned on the web site at all. A phone call followed by a visit is a very smart idea. Prices vary and are based on features such as staff-to-child ratio, credentials of the staff, and so on.

A good preschool should involve a comfortable balance of both learning and play.

Children the ages of approximately three to five years old are candidates for preschool. There is a huge range of what you might have in your own community. Some preschools are locally owned and managed, and like daycare facilities, some are part of a network of preschools, such as La Petite Academy.

If you are lucky, you may have a job that offers childcare on site for its employees and possibly for children of people in the community at large for a nominal price. In one Midwestern medium-sized college town, there are several such options. The University offers childcare for about $200 to $250 weekly per child, about $800 to $1,000 monthly.

In that same town, the community college cares for children ages 15 months to five years old as part of its child development two-year associate's degree program. Fees vary from about $34 to $45 daily, about $200 weekly or $800 a month. Price is determined on a sliding scale based on family income as well as the age of the child.

Several high schools, as part of their child development classes, offer preschool classes to children of teachers, staff, and also to people in the community. For two and a half hours each school day morning, children aged three to five years old enjoy stories and games and even some field trips to nearby spots, such as the local nature center. The high school charges only $20 monthly and even gives a discount, charging only $55 for the entire semester for families that pay in advance.

High school students, mostly girls and some guys, gain the experience of taking care of young children coinciding with classwork assignments that they have. It is all supervised by their child development school instructors who are always present when the little ones are at the high school.

Choosing the right childcare for your little one is very serious business. Trusting your child or children to people working at the daycare center or preschool is never to be taken lightly. While you are away at work, you need the peace of mind of knowing that your child is in good hands. Talk to other parents, read online reviews, and always be sure to visit the facility, unannounced if possible.

Reviewed July 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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