Balancing the demand of childcare and a career can be very difficult for a working parent. The thing to remember when setting up childcare is that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to it; families are different, and so are their childcare needs. This article highlights three important qualities that parents must find in child care providers in order to create a stable and safe environment for the child in their absence.
Knowing who to entrust your child to is the most important concern for any parent. When interviewing child carers, all information is useful information. If working with an agency, such as a day-care centre, find out their worker vetting processes, delving for specific details where necessary. Ask to see training and experience credentials and some references, if possible.
If you're interviewing individuals, ask for as much concrete detail, and this should be backed by documentation as necessary. You can look at things like accreditation/trade union registers (ask for member numbers and corroborate details), certificates of good conduct and their past employment references among others. Stay away from people who shy away from background checks or offer vague, inscrutable answers.
Every parent knows that caring for children throws curveballs that must be handled graciously to minimise disruption of the child's life. You should know your child's caregiver's schedule, as this determines how available they are in the event of some mishap. This is especially important when assessing part-time childcare options because full-time caregivers will seldom have anything planned apart from on days off.
As a working parent, you may get an out-of-town trip that runs late (or for days) or your hours may change if you work on shift, and some flexibility ensures that your child is cared for even in these times. Have an honest conversation with the provider/caregiver about your job demands and their flexibility, so that you have a plan for such times.
Children respond well to long-term care; you don't want them to be seeing a new face every two days. As you delve into a care facility, find out how long their workers have been there to gauge the worker turnover rate. A child needs reliable alternatives in the absence of their parents, and frequent changes can drastically affect their behaviour, socialisation and development. A care facility that has high turnover or an employee whose work relationships don't last long are red flags. This consistency is also good for the parent, because it takes time to build trust and rapport with a person, and for the child to get accustomed to a new person. You don't want your adjustment periods to be going to waste because faces change as soon as you and the child are used to them.
I work as a nurse, and I'm separated from my husband, so it's quite complicated for us to work out child care sometimes. We have an family child care centre down the road that is amazing and does so much to keep our family ticking when we need child care out of hours. I know I'm not the only one who needs flexibility in child care, and I know that a lot of other parents are also struggling with the juggle of managing child care out of the normal opening hours of a centre. This blog is a place to share ideas and solutions we have worked out, with each other.