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Choosing Chidcare. Expert help for finding babysitting help

What are the 3 most common mistakes parents make when choosing childcare for their children?

Expert: Robin McClure, author of the About.com Guide To Child Care blog.

1. Location, Location, Location

Obviously, it’s important to find a childcare option that works within your schedule and budget; however, I think one of the very common mistakes I see is deciding based on logistics, like location, only. If you find something convenient to home or work you might think, “That’s it. That’s the perfect childcare option for me.” You know, it’s great for your schedule; it’s right by your home, but that doesn’t mean that it’s quality care. Similarly, it’s not always true that you get what you pay for. Sometimes you can find fabulous care on the cheap. Somebody may have a low rate and be a fabulous provider. However, choosing for cost alone is obviously a big mistake.

2. Going on Reputation Alone

In a lot of areas, there is that coveted childcare place that everyone talks about. You may have to enroll your child from the time he or she is born in order to get a spot. I actually went through this. I put my son on a waiting list and I was so excited when he got in because this center was so prestigious. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that there really wasn’t the need for my son to be there.

What I’ve learned from the process of finding care for my three kids is that no single type of childcare will meet the needs of all children. Make sure that the childcare you choose is reputable, but also consider the specific needs of your child and yourself. Even if you have a provider who you love, I would recommend frequent evaluations, because your needs may change and your child’s needs may change. The caregiver who is right for your child when he’s one may not be the right caregiver for your child when he’s four.

3. Rushing Into a Decision

You want time to do your research. Find out references and talk to other parents who have kids at this facility. Make a list ahead of time of what questions to ask. What things are important to you? You want to interview the person who is in charge and talk to one of the teachers, but also, see if you can drop in to observe. You shouldn’t have to be taken on a carefully guarded, escorted tour of the facility.

Same thing if you’re hiring a sitter to come to your home. Once you have found someone and done all of the background checks and gotten all of the references; before you leave your children at home with this person, do a test run. Arrange a time when you’re still at home and the babysitter is watching the children. Do this at least the first time. It’s a big decision. We live in a world where you have to be very careful and very vigilant.

Interview by Lindsay Armstrong

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