Read This Before Selecting Child Care
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Child Care Center
- Provide care for eight or more children and operate for more than 30 hours per week.
- Must be licensed by OKDHS.
- Often selected by parents because larger groups, multiple caregivers and state inspections make programs feel more safe for children and make the arrangement more dependable.
- Parents may also believe more space, equipment, toys and organized activities can provide better learning environments for their children.
- In Oklahoma County, the average weekly rate for child care centers for ages 0 to just under 5 years is $146.58.
Katie Green is a project manager and mom to 5-month-old Harper. She and her husband chose a daycare facility because they value a continuum of care that isn’t interrupted if a primary child care provider is sick or goes on vacation. Green appreciates that Harper’s caregivers will text with her, even on nights and weekends, to discuss Harper’s current needs and how they can best care for her.
For an infant in particular, Green recommends asking potential daycare options whether they will follow the child’s individual feeding schedule, what items are provided versus what parents must supply and what activities they provide for stimulation and development. Katie also advocates reviewing each potential facility’s DHS rating and reports.
“We toured each facility and showed up at random times, even if the facility said to schedule an appointment to tour,” Green said. “We were better able to tell which places we could trust.”
For dental hygienist Lacey Link, mom to 2-year-old Brooks and 10-month-old Laney, a daycare center works best for her family’s two busy work schedules, which vary from week to week, and provides her children a strong foundation for future learning. She appreciates that from an early age, they are both challenged academically and taught about giving back to the community.
Link values receiving a daily report about her children via email, and she also gets photos and videos throughout the day.
“It makes me happy at work to know what my kids are doing and to see how happy they are to be there,” she said.
She and her husband asked a lot of questions of their potential facility choices, including what type of curriculum is used, the teacher to child ratios, how much physical activity the children would get, what type of meals they serve and their severe weather precautions.
Katie Brinlee is an accounting supervisor and mom to 4-year-old Hayden and 15-month-old Noah. She and her husband both work long hours and needed a daycare center that could accommodate their work weeks and was convenient to their places of business. A large daycare center means her children have an on-site nurse for quick care emergencies, an onsite underground tornado shelter, multiple outdoor play areas, quality curriculum and bachelor’s degrees for all lead teachers.
Important factors to Brinlee in choosing a daycare facility were how long teachers had been employed, the curriculum used, child to teacher ratios, meal plans, the type of discipline used and the priority of child safety. She appreciates that her daycare is used to and willing to work with parents on redirecting typical toddler misbehavior in a loving way. She also values an iPhone app she can access that tracks her boys’ activities, what they ate and if they napped.
Becky Endicott works as a director of development and is mom to 4-year-old Sophia and 1-year-old Julia. Using a daycare center located at her place of business has afforded her convenience, access to her girls during the workday and the added benefits of activities like dance and music offered onsite. Endicott’s proximity allows her to attend holiday parties or special recitals, get to her girls quickly when they are sick or take diapers or supplies over if they run out.
“It’s allowed me to take Sophie to lunch every Tuesday because we are so close,” she said. “There is absolutely no replacement for the memories we are building together during that time. Also, it allowed me to breastfeed Julia on my lunch break every day when she started there. This gave us special one-on-one time every day and eased my transition back into the office.”
Endicott also appreciates that Sophia has been prepared for organized school, learning how to follow instructions, help around her classroom, follow a lesson plan and the basics of colors, counting and spelling.
Endicott and her husband asked questions about how their girls would receive individualized attention, if they would help potty train when the girls were ready, what curriculum was offered, how often they would play outside, what nap time is like, and how they documented and reported back to them what the girls did during day.
Next page: real local moms weigh in about the pros and cons of in-home care compared to a child care center or a nanny service.