Managing The Stress Of Finding ChildcareMost parents understand that the excitement of having a newborn can sometimes be short-lived when you are trying to find a daycare provider that meets your needs. Financial concerns, long commutes, finding a place that meets your personal wants, and knowing that your child is safe (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually) can all become stressors that impact your mental wellness. In this blog, we hope to offer personal experience and proven tips to help you find childcare that works for your family. Our hope is this blog helps you in managing the stress of finding childcare.

A Personal Story

Owner and director of Garrett Counseling, Ashley Garrett, understands first hand just how stressful finding childcare can be for parents! She says,

“I remember when our childcare struggles with our firstborn began. My oldest child was kicked out of a childcare center for biting when he was around 18-24 months. After attempting everything the center recommended (some of which were pretty extreme), we started seeking another daycare facility. I was so relieved when we found a place for him (and for our child that was due in a few short weeks). The director, Mrs. Angie, was so warm and understanding. When I showed up with a truckload of self administered shame at what I viewed as an epic parenting fail, she looked me right in the eyes and said, ‘We will handle it. I will walk around with him all day until he understands that we don’t bite.’ The confidence and normalization from the daycare director reassured me that I wasn’t a broken parent and that my child would be fine. Though every day and every teacher wasn’t amazing, it was a consistent, practical, and creative approach to co-parenting. It was a joint effort between us as parents and the team of childcare providers in continuing to grow our children into thriving humans of the community. It was a space where they could expand their world view in a developmentally appropriate way. It was a space where they were challenged, held accountable, and encouraged to be creative. When one of our counselors found out she was expecting, we instantly started discussing childcare centers. I sought out one of those childcare directors (and eventually stole away the other daycare director to become my personal assistant) to get the best tips for those needing childcare services!”

Tips For Managing The Stress Of Finding Childcare

Holly Hunter is a member of our administrative team at Garrett Counseling and brings years of experience from the childcare industry to our team. She offers these tips for finding childcare that works for your family:

First, make a list of the top five things that are important to you and your family. This list will be specific to your family and your family’s needs. For one family, this list may look like “a daycare that opens at 6:00am, discounts for multiple children, low teacher/child ratios, and being a state licensed childcare center.” For another family, their list might include “a childcare center that uses a curriculum, has a location close to their workplace, has a staff that is easily accessible throughout the day, and a center that stays open later into the evening/night hours.”

Next, ask around about what childcare centers your friends and coworkers use. Ask questions like “why did you choose this center,” “what has your experience been,” and “what would you say are the center’s greatest strengths and weaknesses.” Use this information to compile a list of childcare centers that sound interesting to you and that possibly meet your top 5 priorities.

Finally, start calling the centers to request a tour. Some centers will require you to schedule an appointment to tour their facility, others will not and will allow you to drop in unannounced. When you tour each center, have a list of questions that you ask at each location so that you will be able to easily compare and contrast and narrow down your options. Here are some recommended questions to ask:

  • What are your hours of operation? Do you offer any part-time options? Is there a minimum or maximum number of hours my child can attend each day/week? Is there a charge for late pickup? Does my child have to be checked in by a certain time each day?
  • What is your holiday and closure schedule? What is the policy for times of inclement weather or other unforeseen emergencies (like extended power outage, etc)?
  • What is the student/teacher ratio in each age group/classroom?
  • Do you use a curriculum with the children and if so, what is it? (Some centers may use a religious-based curriculum and it may be important to you that this match up with your family’s beliefs.)
  • What are your cleaning and disinfecting procedures and how often are they carried out?
  • What is your sickness policy? How did your center respond to the pandemic and what are your current policies regarding Covid-19?
  • Do you provide snacks and meals for the children or would I need to provide those each day? Do you have a nutrition policy or any food items that cannot be brought into the center?
  • What is your cost and payment policy? Is there a discount if I have multiple children enrolled? What forms of payment do you accept? Is there a fee if my payment is late? Do you offer any types of scholarships or discounts?
  • Am I required to pay if my child does not attend (for instance, if we take a family vacation, the center is closed due to inclement weather, or my child is sick)?
  • How accessible is your staff during the day? Can I call, text, or email to check on my child during the day?
  • What is your discipline policy? Do you have a biting policy?

This article was written by Holly Hunter and Ashley Garrett, EdS, LPC-S, RPT-S, NCC. Learn more about Ashley here and Holly here!