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What Are Parents Looking for in a Home Child Care?

by Sara Ipatenco

The vast majority of parents rely on some type of day care when they can't be with their children. The options run the gamut from traditional day care centers to nannies. Parents should do considerable research before choosing the best care for their child. When parents consider a home day care, they're usually looking for specific qualities that make this option the one they ultimately pursue.

Low Ratios and One-on-One Care

Many parents opt for a home day care because they usually have fewer kids than a more traditional child care center. While all states have laws governing how many children can be in the care of one adult at a time, traditional centers usually max that out while home centers might have as few as one or two little ones in the care of one adult. Low ratios mean that your child gets more one-on-one attention. According to HealthyChildren.org, infants under the age of 1 should have one caregiver for every three infants, while toddlers should have one caregiver for every four children. Most parents care about maximum numbers of children in one area. The maximum number of infants for one room is six and the maximum number of toddlers is eight, the HealthyChildren.org website reports.

Safety

Parents are concerned about safety when they leave their child with someone else, so many will choose a home day care center licensed by their state. When you choose a licensed center, it means it is regularly inspected to ensure it's a safe and healthy environment for children, according to KidsHealth. When choosing a center, inspect the outside play area to determine whether it has toys and playground equipment that are in good repair. Also inspect indoor play areas to ensure the toys aren't broken and that they are safe, clean options for your child. Ask the home day care provider if she uses baby gates and whether she keeps medications and chemicals out of reach. If she drives your child places during the day, provide an approved car seat and ensure that she knows how to install it correctly, HealthChilidren.org recommends. Check to see whether your child can nap in a safe place and that she has a place to wash her hands regularly.

Entertainment

Parents don't want to drop their children off at a home day care worried that they'll be bored all day. When choosing a center, most parents look to see what types of entertainment will be provided. Look for a home center that has an outdoor play structure, and outside toys such as balls, bats, jump ropes and riding toys. A variety of age-appropriate indoor toys are a must, as well, and they should be disinfected regularly, the FamilyDoctor.org website recommends. Talk with the day care provider to learn more about whether she provides time for children to read books, do art projects and play dress-up, as well. A quality home day care will also have a schedule that tells you what your child will be doing at various times during the day.

Additional Items

While home day care centers can cost slightly more than traditional centers, most parents are looking for a competitive rate and qualified caregivers who have undergone a background check. Most parents also want a written policy handbook that tells them exactly how such things as discipline, behavior and medication administration are handled by the caregiver. Check to see whether the home day care has smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and ensure that the provider practices fire drills and has an exit plan, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Ask about whether the doors are kept locked during the day, both to keep your child in and to keep strangers out. All of these factors help make your child's child care environment as safe and healthy as possible.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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