Thursday, May 13, 2010

Choosing Summer Child Care

Well, it is almost mid May which means schools will be dismissing for summer break soon. The kids are all thrilled by the prospect of a free summer but the parents that work outside of the home are thinking "Oh no, who will watch my children all summer? Will they be safe?"

We thought this would be a great time to post some tips from Child Care Aware for finding Summer Child Care.
  • Looking. Explore all types of child care options - family child care, centers, parks and recreation departments, community based organizations, school districts and day or overnight camps. Be sure to visit each of the programs and do your own evaluation. Do they look safe? Do the staff enjoy talking and interacting with the kids? After you pick your program, be sure to continue to visit it and evaluate it for continued safety for your child.
  • Check. How long has the program operated? What percentage of children return each year? Is the program certified or accredited by a professional association? Check references from parents that have used the program.
  • Count. Count the number of adults and the number of children they will be responsible for supervising. Be certain there are enough adults to supervise ALL of the different activities that are planned.
  • Ask. Ask your child what kind of programs he or she would like to participate in. Involve the kids in the decision making process. Look for training and experience of all adults who will be with your kids. Do they have first aid and CPR training? Are their discipline policies compatible with your philosophy? Are children able to choose among different activities? What do the adults know about child development? How will they encourage your kids independence and help build self-esteem? If the activities are outside, will they be applying sunscreen?
  • Be informed. Find out about efforts in your community to support and expand summer child care options, For more information, contact your local child care resource and referral agency. To find your local agency, contact Child Care Aware at: 1-800-424-2246 or visit their website.

Some more tips:
  • Be sure to ask about scholarship or financial assistance that may be available to assist families.
  • Be sure your child's nutritional needs will be met. Some programs will provide a meal but others will require a brown bag lunch, regardless of the provider of the food be sure your child is getting nutritious meals to keep up their energy and health.
  • Check into the program that your kids best friend is attending. They will already have a close buddy to help cut down on any trepidation of being the new kid.
  • Children over age 12 may benefit from a counselor trainee program. It is a great self -esteem builder to help kids younger than you.
  • Consider hiring a mature teenager or college student to care for your kids.
  • Consider setting up a co-op arrangement with neighborhood families or good friends. This could lower the cost by everyone chipping in to hire a couple of caregivers for all the kids. This could provide supervision, companionship and transportation to activities.
You can always visit Child Care Aware for more information on finding good childcare. Your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency can be a huge asset for you.

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