If you have children, you have probably utilized base-provided childcare services at one point or another. Here’s a look at what to expect when looking at childcare in the civilian sector.
Let’s face it, there is security in the tight-knit community of the military. You know that there will be a base daycare wherever you go that meets the needs of your specific job. As a mother who transitioned out of the Navy with a toddler and an infant, I can tell you that the experience can be a little stressful (Read: 10 Reasons Not to Freak Out About Your Civilian Transition). But you can do it and end up with some wonderful care for your little ones.
Start with determining a few things
1. Type of care
- Nanny (in your home)
- In-home (someone else’s home)
- Daycare center
2. You and your family’s needs
- Special needs care
- How much do you want to spend?
Research Local Resources
Next, assess the resources available at the location you plan to transition. There are many chain and local daycare centers that may fit your needs.
If you are looking for something more economical or faith-based, check out local churches and organizations such as the YMCA or YWCA. Conduct research on state-run resources that can sometimes offset the cost of childcare for those who qualify.
If education is your goal and you have the resources, take a look at Montessori or other specialty schools that are in your area.
Websites such as Care.com, for a small fee, provide a great resource of nannies, date-night babysitters and in-home daycares. Each potential caretaker presents a bio, a photo and is able to present state clearances through the site.
Check Out Your Local Resources
Contact the daycare facilities and schedule a tour.
Take a look not only at the physical conditions of the classrooms, but the timeliness of your tour guide, the attitude of the employees – do they seem frazzled? Do they seem to enjoy the children who are in their care? What is the turnover rate like? Were they easy to get in contact with?
When hiring a nanny or babysitter, schedule an interview. I highly suggest going to a public place as a safety precaution. It may be helpful to bring your child and note how the potential nanny interacts with them and how your child responds to him/her.
When meeting with a care center or individual, be prepared with a list of questions. These should address your concerns. Important questions such as how do they manage misbehavior? What steps would they take in an emergency situation? And anything that is particularly important to you and the care of your child. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials and clearances. Ask for references and check up on those references!
For nannies, you may want to schedule a probationary period or simply plan to be at home during the first few days of care. That way you are able to make your nanny familiar with your home and expectations, as well as seeing firsthand how they care for your child. So when it is time for you to leave, you can go with a sense of confidence that your child is in good hands.
Trust your gut! If it doesn’t seem right, the daycare or nanny probably isn’t the right choice.
With some careful research and vetting, you can find some fantastic caregivers out there.
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