Choosing Day Care

Updated on March 06, 2007
A.D. asks from Great Falls, MT
14 answers

My daughter is four months old, I spent 13 weeks at home with her before returning to work, and my husband has been home for 5. He only has 6 more weeks left before he has to return to work. We are now in the process of trying to find daycare. I am terrified. As a child I had several day care expriences, from being locked out of the house with no food or water, to coming to the center from school to find my infant brother hadn't been changed all day. Or my brother being beat up on by the older kids. How do I make sure these things are not happending to my daugheter. How do I choose? I am torn between a daycare center, in which I believe there is more accountability, but less love and care, and home, which will provide security (same person day in day out), love and care, but less accountability. Also, centers seem to have more issues with illness than a small at home daycare. I want what is best for my daughter, and wish my husband or I could stay home full time. I'd love to hear from other mothers who have put their children in day care how they chose. And what exprienenced moms think is best, a center or a at home daycare.

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So What Happened?

I took a weeks worth of vacation and my husband and I called every day care in town. Only a few had openings for infants. We went and talked and met with them. Two really stuck out to us. And, at home one and a center. In the end we decided we liked the accountability the center had to offer. Plus, the child to infant ratio is very small. We paid our deposit, and felt very comfortable with our choice. Until the 10 o' clock news came on. It turns out a man was arressted to day on 1 charge of sexual assualt and 1 charge of intercourse without consent. Both on minors (10 and 13). He used to work at the daycare center we choose. Now we are back to square one. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. My husband is thinking of quitting his job, but financially it would be very difficult. I felt so confident in our choice and now what? I really appreciate all the advice, and have poured over it again, as we begin our search again. Thank you for all your help.

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answers from Rapid City on

Unfortunately, I have no advice for you but wanted to share that I too am struggling with the very same issue! I visited my first daycare today and left nearly in tears. I was horrified by what I saw. I stopped by another and was relieved to see children were clean, well kept, entertained and the staff appeared happy to be there. If you receive any good input---please share and good luck in the meantime!

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answers from Fargo on

As a Childcare provider who finally let my own children have a babysitter outside of the family I know what you mean (my "babies" are 3 years old). Here are some "inside tips" that I would use if I had to find a provider.

I would suggest you use word of mouth, and do your research. If you go with an in-home daycare make sure they are licensed and not just registered. Also, call Childcare Resource and Referral and ask for the providers in your area. When you get the list if any of the providers in your area are accredited they should be at the top of your list. Accreditation is a 9-month long process, and pretty intensive.

When you interview, ask questions about why they have an opening, how long have their families been with them and if you can get a reference of a family that is no longer with them. See how long they have been doing daycare, if it's less then two years use your gut, the greatest amount of providers that quit is within the first two years. How many training hours above the required do they do? Are they involved in any daycare associations? Watch the way the provider interacts with your baby and with other children. Are you interviewing on the floor or at a table? Does the provider want to pick up your child, does she ask or just grab the baby? You should have a good gut feeling by the time you are done with each interview. Also, taking another mom or grandma with you can help be an extra set of eyes and see what they think.

For centers look for ones that are also accredited. Ask them questions about their staff turn over rate as well as their family turn over rate. Also, look in the corners and the toys closely to see if they look clean. Are the children clean or do they have messy faces. Ask to see the eating and napping area. Don't be afraid to get down at ground level and take a look around, it's a completely different view at the floor.

In both cases you can also contact the County Social services to see if any of the programs you are looking into have had any violations, ask for details to see if these are serious or if they may have been from a disgruntle employee/family.

I know this is a lot of info but I hope atleast some of it is helpful, good luck. I hope you find someone who will love and care for your baby as much as you do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

How attached are you to your (or husband's) carrers? would you ever want to try something new? If you are serious about getting to stay home with them, that is what I do. I work one or two nights each week allowing my husband to be at home with them when I'm not.



answers from Omaha on

I can feel your pain!! We've been looking for a good daycare for months with no luck - I've looked at soooooo many!!

A couple of things to consider - one, radon is in many Omaha homes and is a big cause of lung cancer (however, it doesn't show up til later in life!). In Iowa, daycares are required to test for it but there is no such requirement in Nebraska!! Usually it comes into play when the kids will be in a basement area (the risk is the same whether its an open basement or not).

Second, the son of one of the employees at Omaha2000 was arrested for inappropriately touching the kids there & I've heard on the local news of it happening in at least one other center. So I ASK every time whether they have teenage boys helping out with the kids. Another thing that some centers do is allow the older boys to go in and help with the babies & toddlers which is a big no no bc you don't want to leave your kids alone with them either!! What are these people THINKING!!!

I even went to one daycare center where they had a dog roaming around the center at will. Another center said that in tornado weather, they take all the kids next door to some guy's house that he converted for use for a computer business and all the kids huddle in his basement.

The only one I heard of that did all the right things was the daycare for UNMC/Clarkson on 42nd & Dodge but the prices are very high.

Its pretty sad that we have a ton of daycare centers in this area and so very few truly look out for the best interest of the kids (sorry, I'm a little bitter on the whole subject!!).




answers from Des Moines on

I'm definitely all about home day care. I grew up going to a home day care and made some great friends that are still my friends today, and I even keep in touch with my provider still. I think the key to finding a good one is getting recommendations from other moms. My day care provider was a relative of my dad's coworker, so my mom already knew her. The woman I chose to watch my son watches my mom's coworker's daughter. I went to her house and met with her prior to deciding. I like her a lot because she will only watch 4 kids, so I know it's not too much for her to handle. Plus they are all the same age (1-2) so they play together, and she doesn't have to worry about entertaining each of them separately. Except my son who is 5 months, but he likes to watch the other kids, and the kids looooove him. I guess my suggestion would be to visit a few places, and go with your gut. If something feels wrong about it, there probably is. Also find a place that doesn't mind unannounced visits. I know it's hard, but just trust your instincts.



answers from Omaha on

I wish I had a good answer for you. I've put my child in two centers. The first time from 6 mos old - 18 months old. Then I put him in a different one at 2.5 years old. I was so much happier with the first one...they really seemed to care for even cried when we moved away. The one he's in now, I'm thinking about changing. I don't think they pay attention to the children as much.

Here's what I'd do/look for/ask:

1 -How long has staff been there?
2- What is staff's credentials
3- Do they alert you when things happen ...i.e. baby has rash, or baby bumped head or child hit someone? At his old day care they told me about every little thing. This one tells me nothing. Trust me, you'd rather be told or you just sit they're wondering.
4- How many staff per # of children
5 - Schedules - Is it at your request or do they have to follow the school's schedule?
6 - How often are they changed? Does staff wear gloves - what is procedure?
7-What are hours? What are the vacation days?

Visit SEVERAL times without least 5 times...I only visited this place 2x and wish I had gone more. I see staff raising their voices to the kids when they don't need to...I see kids crying and no one is consoling them...this is at La Petite on S 138th by the way.

Be sure to check out if they've had any incidents that have been can search for that on the web...there is a state organization that monitors day cares.

Ask everyone and anyone you know and trust. But Remember your standards might not be as high as someone elses...apparently mine are way to high because I looked at 15 different day cares and the only one I liked is too expensive.

I personally prefer having him in a day care center because there's always someone else there, as opposed to putting him in someone's home. Also, you're not stuck if your day care provider is sick or on vacation...centers are open every day except holidays.

I've had some people tell me to stay away from Millard Learning Center, Millard Children's Academy, and Amazing Days for Little People.

Good luck!



answers from Sioux Falls on

I prefer home providers over centers any day. They have a much smaller child per adult ratio than centers do. First check with the state for registered providers. This way they have the accountability that you are requesting. They have to have done background checks and have to get a certain amount of training and CPR and first aid. You can also check the registered ones to find out if there has ever been complaints against them. Once you find some check their policies. Make sure that they have an open door policy. Meaning, you can come and check up whenever you feel like it. If they don't allow this then I would wonder why they wouldn't want you to check up. Then take a tour of the place. Look at the toys, sleeping area, and diaper changing area. Inspect these and make sure they are clean. Good luck!



answers from Great Falls on

I spent 18 months home with my daughter before returning to work. Finding a daycare was tough. There is a place here called Child Care Connections, GF may have one too. I went to CCC and was asked a bunch of questions about the kind of daycare I wanted. They put the info into there computer and gave me a list of certified daycares in the area that matched what I wanted. With this list I was able to call and make appointments with different daycares. They also give you a list of questions to ask the daycare provider that I would never of thought of. After checking out quite a few daycares my husband and I found an in-home daycare that my daughter just loves. Good Luck!



answers from Omaha on

Hi A.! What an frightening experience you had. I had a similar one with a babysitter when I was a child, I think she was Cruella Deville's sister. :)

I run a home daycare myself, (not a ploy for business, LOL, I am currently full) and the ladies that have responded to you have given you some wonderful advice. The main thing you need to know is that licensed/registered does NOT always mean quality, but being licensed/registered is a good start. As for the "gut feeling", absolutely true!! YOu know what is best for your child, and if it doesn't feel right, then there is probably something not right. Maybe just as small as a personality conflict, but something. Also, open door policies are a must (but, if you go around nap time, they would probably appreciate whispers, lol) but by all means, drop in at different times of the day, see what is going on. Also, how the children interact with the provider is a good indicator as well. (and vice versa) Does the provider treat her Child care as a business? Does she have policies and procedures, contract, etc. What kind of experience or training? There are usually some resource and referral offices that can start you on the way, and word of mouth is priceless. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.



answers from Pocatello on

A.: Finding a child care center that works for your family is the best advice! I own a large center so maybe I'm bias but, a full facility can often offer what a home center can't (dependability, learning centers, medical emergency proceedures, etc) ask a lot of questions and make a surprise appearance- if they want you to make an appointment-cross them off! Video cameras are nice (my center has them but, I chose not to have them on the internet for my own preference)
1. contact the state for a list of all licensed facilities
2. who works with your hours?
3. fees/cost?
just start narrowing it down-then go take tours and get their "parent handbooks" READ them!
find out if the center has CPR/first aid for all staff or just one (who knows how that ONE person would react to an emergency)
Call the BBB - they should have complaints on file
Also- call "resource and referral" in Idaho it's 2-1-1 the licensing dept may have this info.

All in all, be involved and have an open communication with your provider so they know what you expect and want to experience.

Good luck!
If you have any other questions feel free to email!



answers from Omaha on

Hi My name is Lori I have a in home childcare I have been working with children since 1993 have had in home childcare in my home since 1995 I have 2 children thay are 3 and 10 love children you can call me and I can help you find the right fit for you you can email me at thank you for your time I will help you find the right fit for you ane your little one.



answers from Omaha on

The one below me is mine to but on my friend that got me on this sites account and not mine.. this is mine. Hi My name is L. I have a in home childcare I have been working with children since 1993 have had in home childcare in my home since 1995 I have 2 children thay are 3 and 10 love children you can call me and I can help you find the right fit for you you can email me at thank you for your time I will help you find the right fit for you ane your little one.

.. there we go. so if you haven't found care yet let me know. thank you for your time .



answers from Des Moines on

We toured several daycares. compared the informational booklets. Some daycares now are having videocams where you can go online and take peeks at what's going on online. the pic isn't always the greatest, but i think the staff knowing that you could see them at any point, tend to try a bit harder. we also checked out some in home daycares, these are easier to just drop by and see spontaneously and that is sometimes better, because the person doesn't have time to "set up" the appearance. We selected an in home daycare on part-time/drop-in basis mostly because the lady is very organized. She has thought of everything. her packet that she gives everyone is literally 20 pages long. Longer than some of the booklets at commercial places. But she has everything spelled out, you know exactly how she would handle a situation. Being a small business owner myself, I do think the more info someone in in-home daycare can give you, the better. Means they've really thought through how their running their business, not just someone who was staying home to watch their kids and took a couple more on the side.

The number of kids, i think is important too. we saw some commercial ones that were just jammed packed with kids. I think winter/rainy days are best because that's usually when all kids will be inside and too many kids doesn't give them enough room to play or can be way too overstimulating to young ones.

what town do you live in? If you in the metro I can tell you some that we thought were good. it's a daunting process, and commercial ones can be expensive. Too expensive sometimes. You can email:



answers from Sioux City on

I as a mommy know what you are feeling.
I think a child care center is the best idea. I know they have higher chances of illness spreading but they do have health requirements to follow too. I would be afraid og in home childcares myself. It raises the chances of things like not being changed, neglected, abused or even sexually abused.
I would look into centers. Look for ones where no emplyees are allowed behind closed doors with your child and if the door is closed there should be a window between the rooms. Also some centers have camera systems to where you can log on to check on your child by web cam and the supervisors can also monitor the rooms without notice.
the biggest piece of advice is to ask questions!

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