You always want to be there for your child, but when you can’t be there, it is important that you have confidence in those entrusted with the care of your child. There are many quality childcare providers available nationwide, whether you are seeking daycare, nannies, in-home childcare professionals or babysitters.
Follow these simple questions to find a good childcare solution for your family:
Do we need full-time or part-time care for your child?
If both parents work traditional nine to five days, does the carer need to start early in the day, work late or be there on weekends? If you only require part-time care, will the days for care be the same each week or will your carer need to be flexible?
How much can we afford to spend on childcare?
Fitting child care into your budget is essential. Remember, you still need money for bills and other essentials, as well as some leftover for those not-so-necessaries that make life enjoyable for your family. A nanny will be a much more costly option than placing your child at a local daycare centre, but there are also benefits to having one-on-one care for your child.
Does my child have any special needs?
A daycare environment where your child will be able to interact with others and gain some measure of independence can allow your child to flourish. This environment may not suit all children, though, as some are better suited to having in-home care with a nanny or other guardian.
What kind of childcare will suit my child?
Consider your child’s age and what will provide a comfortable setting for your child while you are not there. There are crèche or daycare options for young infants, but many parents prefer to wait until their child is a toddler before sending him or her to a daycare centre. For a very young child, in-home care may provide a more comfortable environment. If you have decided to enrol your child at a daycare, crèche or preschool, visit a selection of centres so that you get a good idea of what is available.
- Family Day Care: A government regulated service that cares for children up to the age of 12 within a registered carer’s home. The child care provider is not required to have any formal qualification, although carers are chosen and monitored by professionals. Family day care centres are allowed a maximum of five preschool-aged children.
Benefits: Personal attention within a ‘home’ environment; flexible hours; holiday care.
Disadvantages: You will need to provide food and drink for your child each day; if the carer is unwell you will have to make alternative care arrangements; one carer only, without daily supervision.
- Long day care centres: These facilities offer child care covering the scope of regular working hours, from around 7:30am until 6:00pm, from Monday through until Friday. There will be daily fees, which may or may not include meals, nappies and other supplies. Discuss what is being included in the cost. Centres usually care for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years, with children grouped according to their developmental level and given activities to suit.
Benefits: Reliable and professional level of care; care is monitored; certain staff/child ratios must be maintained.
Disadvantages: Places are limited, so you may be placed on a waiting list; takes your child out of the home environment.
- Pre-School: These facilities prepare your child for a school education, although the format and style of care differ between centres. Pre-school care is available for children aged between 3 and 5 years of age, and the day is usually broken up into morning and afternoon care sessions from Monday to Friday.
Benefits: Reliable and professional level of care; care is monitored.
Disadvantages: Do not accept those under 3 years of age.
- Nanny or Babysitter: These child care options allow your child to be cared for within a familiar home environment. An agency is often helpful in selecting appropriately qualified candidates who meet your specifications. Nannies may also be able to help out with transportation, meal preparation and light housework, as well as activities with your child.
Benefits: Highly personalised care in your own home.
Disadvantages: Costly; your child will have less interaction with others.
Although the search for the right child care option can seem arduous, there is a solution out there. Think through the choices – who, where, how often – so that you are completely happy with your decision. Once you have thought about your child’s needs and the amount you can spend on child care, check out your options thoroughly so that you get an idea of what is available for the care of your little one.