Child Care

School’s out and many parents are still scrambling to find child care options for the summer, or they may have just finalized their plans.  Whether you choose a formal child-care center, family day care or hire an older student to help run your kids to summer camps; here are some tips to ensure that your kids have the best and the safest summer!

Do some research.  Ask other parents who they know and trust.  When evaluating child-care or family day care centers, you can visit to review a center’s licensing, their “Reaching for the Stars” rating and a history of inspections and complaints.  If you’re considering hiring an older student, ask for references and inquire about their driving history if they’ll be providing rides.

Visit child care facilities and ask questions before you decide.  Find out about adult to child ratios, group size, caregiver qualifications, turnover and accreditation. Look around to see how the staff interacts with the children – are they down on the floor playing or holding little ones who need some extra care – that’s a good sign that the children are getting a healthy dose of interaction and love.

Do a policy check. Ask questions about discipline, television, feeding, naps, field trips and the sick-child policy.  You might also ask what their policies are on limiting one-on-one adult/child interactions and whether their staff has received training on recognizing and responding to child abuse.  Ray of Hope can provide the Stewards of Children training to child care facilities who’d like to cross this off their list! If you’re hiring a caregiver, you can help set those guidelines, so don’t be afraid to speak up now about your expectations.

Stay involved. Pop in at unexpected times to see how your child’s day is going. Offer to bring snacks or help with other projects when you’re able. Volunteer to read a book or join in special events, like field trips, birthdays or holidays.

Trust your gut.  If something doesn’t feel right, investigate other options. Remember that children and families are all unique and what works for another family might not be right for yours.