If you have children who are in need of daycare, then you are undoubtedly privy to the great debate that centers on in home childcare vs. daycare. Both have their merits, but it appears that there are lines drawn between the supporters of each, that are very hard to overcome. There are a number of reasons why either setting would work just fine, but to take a more objective look at the facility, here are some questions you need to ask.
What are the hours of operation?
A daycare center will usually have structured hours and there is little flexibility when it comes to your having an emergency. On the other hand, in-home childcare facilitators will often be able to work with you if you run into trouble. Perhaps they might agree to allow you to drop off your child extra early, or they will permit you to have your child stay extra late so you can finish that presentation that your boss is hounding you about. If you were to run into the same fix with a daycare center, you should usually expect to make alternate arrangements for pick-up or drop-off.
Where is it located?
Some daycare centers have multiple centers and if you move you will be able to seamlessly move your child from one facility to another. In-home childcare is pretty much limited to the home of your childcare provider. If you move, either you will have to resign yourself to finding a new provider or you will have to do a lot of extra driving.
Is it licensed?
Daycare centers are usually licensed, and you might want to ask many questions if they are not. In-home childcare may or may not be licensed, and there are only a few requirements because they should be. The problem with unlicensed care is simply the fact that you do not have the oversight of a governing agency to ensure that the facility is adequate. Not having a license also means that the facility or home really does not have a lot to lose if they provide substandard care; the worst you can do is walk away and take your business elsewhere. If, on the other hand, a license is at stake, the provider will be a lot more accountable to you for the care she or he provides to the children. Additionally, having a license will permit you to research the provider for outstanding violations and other reported problems. One caveat when it comes to unlicensed in-home childcare. While the provider may be a wonderful person, the same may not apply to other adults living in or having access to the home. Since no criminal and drug backgrounds are checked, you may have folks near your child that ordinarily you may not approve of.
What are the personnel like?
Whether you are looking at a daycare center of an in-home provider, you want to make sure that they are able to perform child CPR, first aid, and know what to do in case of an emergency. Proof of such training should be accessible to you upon request. You may also wish to ask what kind of training the individuals in charge of your children have when it comes to child development and childcare.
Ask about the policy with respect to parental visits. Providers should welcome you warmly when you visit without appointment. If there are locked doors, and if it takes a long time for the in-home provider to open up, you might have a problem. Similarly, if the daycare center is less than accommodating when you visit, you may wish to look elsewhere for a care provider.
As you can see, there are a number of things to check into before deciding on any kind of childcare. All things being equal, however, if you need flexibility, then an in-home childcare provider may have a slight edge. If, on the other hand, you do not have a particular need for flexibility but instead want an assurance that licenses are in place, and policies and procedures have a more professional look to them, then a daycare center will probably do the trick for you. However, keep in mind that excellent quality care can be found in ether setting.