When investigating child care options, a home-based family childcare business is one one possible choice open to parents. However, finding the right home-based childcare provider to watch over your children can be a daunting, frustrating, and difficult task for many parents as the care options vary and the home-based childcare industry is largely unregulated.
When looking for a good home-based family childcare provider, I suggest the following tips to the many families I have worked with:
1. The Interview
Book an interview with the intended childcare provider in their home so you can meet them and get a sense of your comfort (or discomfort) with them. Ensure this interview period is long enough to allow you time to determine if this family business is a good fit for your family and your child(ren).
2. The Environment
Onsite interviews also allow you to see first hand the cleanliness of the home and confirm which spaces of the home will be used in day-to-day operations of the business. You should be looking for a home-based childcare provider that offers the recommended square footage laid out in your province’s Childcare Act, cleans the toys regularly, has designated outdoor play areas on site or uses local ones nearby, and maintains a clean household. An operator who is unwilling to show you specific areas of their home could be hiding something.
3. Good Communication
Finding a childcare provider who speaks, writes, and comprehends the same languages you use in your home can be a key factor in early childhood development of your child(ren). During your interview ask what methods of building your child(ren)’s language will be used (i.e., books, songs, puzzles and flash cards) as well as what toys will be made available to enable your child(ren)’s imagination to grow. Good communication between yourself and your dhildcare provider is also important for the future of your child’s development as the provider will become part of your parenting team while watching your child.
4. The Receipt
Every childcare provider must legally issue to you a receipt for the entire amount of fees paid to them for providing the service of childcare for your family. An operator who does not issue a signed receipt at the end of each year for taxation purposes could indicate other issues to be concerned about.
5. Word of Mouth
In an age where online resources are abundant don’t forget to ask your friends, neighbours and coworkers where they source their childcare leads. Word of mouth keeps many family childcare businesses full without them having to advertise and you might miss out on a good lead if the only place you search is online.
Once you find the space for your child(ren) be sure to visit at different times to ensure your childcare provider is giving you the service agreed upon. If it feels wrong, it might very well be; the proper care and safety of your child is paramount.
Spending the time at the onset to place your child in a family child care space that fits you and your child(ren)’s needs, can have long lasting effects for everyone involved. Children become great friends in smaller social settings, are cared for in the neighbourhood they live within, and parents can connect with other people making the journey through the wonderful, if sometimes crazy, world of parenting.