Tuesday, March 3, 2009

what's next

Just when I've finally gotten the hang of this staying-at-home thing (plan each day in detail, make to-do lists), it's just about time for me to go back to work. Which means I need to set up a daycare arrangement. Until Gray was about a year old, we had a nanny who came to the house every day. After his first birthday, we put him in a daycare center affiliated with the local university. I was very happy with both arrangements, but I'm thinking more of home-based care this time round.

Daycare at a center isn't practical for right now. For one thing, most centers in town charge upwards of $2000/month (no, that is not a typo) for a baby under 15 months. For another, the wait lists are such that you really have to apply before the child is born, which, for a bunch of reasons, I wasn't willing to do. And, while I loved Gray's nanny, in retrospect, I think that, after the first few months, he would have benefited from an environment where he was around other kids.

So that's why I'm looking at family daycare. Advice or thoughts, anyone? What should I look for? What questions should I ask? And (just out of idle curiosity), what does infant daycare at a center run in your neck of the woods?

37 comments:

Mrs. Spit said...

It's a bit different up here, because Mat. leave is 1 year, so you really can't find child care for kids under a year.

I was looking at 1K a month for good quality daycare here in Edmonton.

leanne said...

I have a whole slew of questions about family daycare that I recently sent a friend -- I'll dig up the email and send it to you. My son was in a family daycare til he turned 4 and then went off to preschool/daycare center. My daughter now goes to the same family daycare.

Center care for infants is about $1200 or more a month (in contrast the family daycare for my son was $225 a week -- for my daughter it's now $255 a week). And yes, the wait lists at centers are crazy.

niobe said...

Mrs. Spit: Very interesting to hear that. It hadn't occurred to me that one side effect of offering longer maternity leave would be making it harder to find daycare for people who chose to (or who had to, since my understanding is that often mat leave is not at full pay) go back to work before the usual time.

Magpie said...

I can't give you a price on infant care; "my" daycare center starts at 18mo - at $1554/mo for a 10.5 hour day.

Are you thinking family based care from now to kindergarten? Or would you switch to a center based daycare when he's a little older? I think the questions you might want answered will be different depending on what your future plans are. Like - how much do they use the TV to placate the children. That was what turned me off to the only family care place I looked at.

niobe said...

I suppose that if I find a provider who I absolutely love, I might consider family-based care for several years. Otherwise, there's a (partially-subsidized) daycare center at work that would be available once he's about 15 months old.

LawMommy said...

$2000 a MONTH? That is insane. I paid $600 a month when Gabe was an infant at a NAEYC accredited center. They are up to $850 a month now. Wow. $2000?? Seriously?

Bon said...

where i am, "baby" is considered anyone under 22 months old, at most centres...and the majority have only three or four spaces max. our campus daycare only starts at 22 months.

which is why i had O in a home setting from the time i went back when he was 13 months. he's now outgrowing it and i'm looking for a centre to take both him & Posey. the cost? $26-$30 a day each, depending on the child's age, usually including lunch.

what i asked my sitter when we started was...cloth diapers? (she was willing) tv? (very little when they were small, but now he seems to know a LOT of characters) activities? (there was supposed to be more formal outdoor stuff in summer, but i know nap schedules made that hard for her), food? (we send his rice milk, she provides semi-healthy food, though again, his donut literacies are higher than we'd like)...she has here Early Childhood Certificate and promised things like menus etc that haven't been entirely forthcoming...one of the potential drawbacks of a home situation unless you're better at calling people to account than i. still, the most important for me were the intangibles...how my child would be treated, disciplined, comforted...on those fronts my sitter has been amazing, and part of me would prefer to see Posey in a home setting at this age.

Kristin said...

Full tie daycare for children under 1 yr old is about $1250 to $1500 a month.

Around here, if someone has an in home daycare, they have to be licensed if they care for more than 2 unrelated children. I would definitely look towards a licensed center.

Wordgirl said...

Ultimately the decision G made for W when he was an infant -- the childcare center was so much more highly recommended than any other - the home-day care being hard to regulate and difficult to find -- and the childcare center was between 400-700 a week -- the higher end being for infant care.

Julia said...

We have a nanny who comes to the house. Same one now for the Cub who was Monkey's nanny-- very lucky for us. But with Monkey I was home until she was 9 months and JD did the next three (paid paternity leave at his old job-- they don't have perks like that anymore :(). She didn't go to pre-school (home-based, but about 20 kids total in two age groups) until after 3. She didn't need it because there was a giant posse of kids she played with at playground that is walking distance from our house. I am hoping that when it gets warmer a similar posse assembles and the Cub could take advantage. Otherwise we will have to have a good think about what to do for interaction factor. Cause there's no way I am giving up our nanny. She's da bomb!

Dalene said...

I'm looking at $800/month for 2 days/wk, so similar price to what you're finding for daycare at a center.

Clementine said...

You probably remember that I'm a licensed family child care provider. I'd be more than happy to talk with you about FCC...it tends to be cheaper than center care (around $1000/month in the Boston area) and there are some wonderful programs out there.

Trish said...

I cannot believe that daycare is so high in your area. Daycare in my neck of the woods is $90/week, and generally the same price regardless of the age of the child. I don't have any experience with daycare, so I cannot offer an informed opinion on that topic. Good luck with your search!

Hannah said...

Any daycare centres here that offer care for children under a year usually will only go as young as three months. And they are nearly impossible to find, as they are quite scarce (something like 8% of total spaces are for kids under 18 months, and the wait lists are crazy long). I had Isaac in a centre from 12 months to three years, at a cost of $800 per month. Once James was born and we realized that I could manage them both at home and be happier, not to mention that at $1600 per month for the two of them my take-home pay would amount to about $400, I made the decision to stay home full time.

Now I've got a part-time job opportunity and I'm looking at a family daycare situation. Average cost seems to be about $25 per day, which does not include lunch but does include snacks. You get a fair number of Early Childhood Educators working from home offering care, but you also see a lot of mothers with their own preschool-aged kids who need to supplement their income by taking in a kid or two.

When Isaac was in daycare, there was one child who started in full time five day a week care right at three months old. That little boy spent A LOT of time strapped into a swing chair, at least until he was old enough to sit on his own. He was just so much younger than the other kids, and licensing for that age specifies one teacher for every four kids, so since he was quiet in the chair I think he got overlooked a fair bit. Something to consider no matter what the care situation is; find out just how much time the caregiver is planning to spend actively interacting with Cole.

Sorry to hijack your comments, I love being asked for advice about things. :)

Mayberry said...

Family child care homes are notoriously un- or under-regulated, so you have to be really careful when you're looking--but that's similar to your experience with a nanny.

Where I live (smallish town, Midwest) infant care at the accredited center I use for my bigger kids costs about $1000/mo. for FT care. That includes food, once they start eating it.

Christine said...

no real advice here. i bet you'll find something just right.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I have to go back next month. Infant care here in upstate NY is $260/week at a center. Add to that my 3 y-o at $220/week plus $430/month for my kindergartner (plus $250 a week for school vacations!) And I am working completely for healthcare with no take home pay. Eek. I really want to move to Canada and if this past election had gone poorly I was serious about researching it. I was looking for someone to come into my home but was nervous about it. I like the center where my boys go.

Oh! And each April the center increases by $10/week per child. And in the summer my kindergartner will go there at $200/week.

Now I am sick. I was trying to deny that this is about to happen...

-e

Eva said...

My kid is in a family daycare and I am pretty happy with it. Just decide on your deal-breakers and try not to worry about the rest. It is a home, after all. It won't be just like your house.

I probably wouldn't have chosen this place or an in-home place at all if it didn't come insanely highly recommended by both the parents and kids of a family I know.

For me, the most important things were: a consistent caregiver, not a lot of kids, lots of attention, someone who is crazy calm and experienced. The lady is a Buddhist who is obsessed with nutrition and that's a bonus.

Crazy cheap here. Less than $5 an hour for full-time. I think like $120 a week?

For a little kid I don't think being around others is such a big deal. You could always get a nanny and then do Gymboree etc. when the baby gets older. But a good, safe in-home place could be great. Just don't want too many older kids. The little baby at the place my kid goes to seems kind of...abandoned, sometimes (though content), kind of all by itself, watching from a swing or whatever. I'm not sure I'd leave a little baby there. I'd rather have someone obsessed with my little baby watching it.

Furrow said...

High-end for infants around here is $800/mo. Y'all live in some expensive places.

Totally OT, but we just started Zo in a 2 morning/wk program on my campus. So fun!

Good luck to you. My BF uses a family daycare, and she loves it. The only thing her partner doesn't like is lack of structured reports on kiddo's day.

Amy said...

Daycare here in the city is about $1400-$1500 a month. Many of our friends are doing nanny shares so that one nanny takes care of a few kids and they split the expense (no more than 3 kids at a time, but it's more social than just having a nanny for 1!).

Bea said...

Before this year, I always used home care (at $25-35/day/child), and now that I have Pie in a day-care centre I can see the advantages of both. Pie really benefits from all the programming, but she has a MUCH less personal relationship with her caregivers: she is much more focused on her peers. When she was in home-care she formed a very strong bond with her caregiver, and that was really helpful when she was younger.

Personally, I prefer home-care for younger children - they usually have a more spacious environment to play in, kids around them who are a variety of ages (which seems somehow more natural to me), and more varied outings than they would get in a day-care centre. The drawbacks are all the TV: the amount varies from one home to the next, but in almost any home-care the kids are going to be watching more TV than they'd get at a day-care centre.

As far as the individual attention goes, I think a few active toddlers are the best possible baby entertainment. I happy baby drinking in all the activity around him is doing just FINE, even if he's not getting a whole lot of individual attention from an adult.

As for day-care costs, the day-care centre Pie is in is partially subsidized by the town, and I pay around $500/month for a three-year-old, four days per week. I don't know how much they charge for the younger ones, but they don't take anyone under 18 months. (The situation is thus not directly related to mat leave, since everybody has to go back at 12 months, yet it's incredibly difficult to find day-care centres that take kids younger than 15 months.)

Anonymous said...

Day care for babies......about 250+ dollars a week for full time at a licensed center.....

My son has had a nanny since he was a tiny baby. The same nanny. He's going to be 6 now. She needed a few months off for personal reasons, so I posted an add on Craig's list for temporary nanny, part time $10 an hour.

Because of the crappy economy I got tons and tons of responses. I got a cream of the crop professional, age late 20's, very energetic and engaging nanny who takes my son on field trips and plays with him constantly. I had people volunteering to be my personal servant, and listed all the house work they were willing to do in addition to watching my son, who was advertised as "high energy". It was a little nauseating. We are a low key, modest household. I just wanted a babysitter, not a slave. Very sobering. People are desperate.

DD said...

We pay $2.75/hr for our day care to drop ZGirl on her head and give her multiple URI. A steal, really.

Monica H said...

DD that's so sad.

When my brother was a wee one, he went to a ladies house and interacted with a couple other kids. In Texas you have to be licensed if you're taking care of more than 3 (I think) children at once. She only charge about $125-$150 week. I'm not even sure if it was that much to be honest. She kept him for about 10 hours a day.

Now that is a steal. You can probably find someone to cre for him far cheaper than a daycare, but they won't be certified or licensed and I'm not sure if you're willing to risk that. He deserves the very best. But then again, who doesn't appreciate and need "grandma's" lovin'?

thirtysomething said...

Oh, tough decision. You can find a good one though.
Based on my 13 years experience working in childcare and having all of my children trickle through the arena of various centers, I learned a lot of what to look for and what not.
Check schedules to see if they are posted (so kids aren't just hanging out all day), ask about teacher education (especially in family care homes - sometimes it is more lenient and that can go either way in the level of care), check to see if there is adequate and safe outdoor playspace with safe climbing equipment, check fences and gates for childsafe locks, make sure babies get to enjy the outdoors as well, ask about sick policies, ask to see the menu (this was always a deal-breaker for me - if it was nothing bu junk and canned food), ask how many staff are employed and what do they do in case of emergencies, ask to see the sleeping arrangement for naptimes, ask the age ranges and if thy are combined.
Also ask about the kind of curriculum they use with the PreK kids - is it NAEYC, is it creative curriculum (play-based)....Oh, I will stop. There is so much! You can find a good one though, just be dilligent and prepared to ask questions!! Family care homes often aren't forced to comply with the same rules and regs as chilcare centers.

Kristen said...

I'm with thirtysomething - if you are going to use a daycare, try to find one that is NAEYC accredited - which will typically get you a smaller child to teacher ratio than usual DSS ratios - as well as a set curriculum to follow.

We opted to put our kids in a NAEYC child development center affiliated with the University... mostly because a private nanny was out of the budget, and I was uncomfortable with someone being in our home every day with no other socialization or interaction for the baby. I didn't know of any family run settings - or have the option of any of our family watching our kids - so the daycare facility was the obvious choice.

Every daycare has it's ups and downs - but overall we've been happy and trust the safety of our children to them.

It's hard - I detest the morning drop off (and have recently relegated that duty to my husband) - I know they learn a lot (at 4 and 2 years old) and have a lot of fun - but leaving your kid anywhere just feels wrong - and after 4 years of putting my child in daycare is still hard. I often think of that line in the "Family Man" where Nicholas Cage drops the baby off and asks "do I need a claim check?"

As for prices, I'm in the deprived South - so the cost of living is much lower here - I pay about $8K per child/year - which is much less than your costs, but still a huge percentage of my salary. I'm still trying to figure out how we'll do it with three when this new baby arrives this summer...

Linz said...

Holy cow. We live in the very middle of the Plains, and the good daycare option we were looking at is $850/month for full time, 5 days/week. Our "iffy" option that would have been on campus for me was $600/month, but as another person told me, that's basically for a person who feeds the kids and changes their diapers every 2 hours - "no 'extras' like singing or reading to them."

Debbie said...

With in-home care, I would also ask about who else will be in there/have access to the home while your child is there? Like other family members?

What is the backup if the provider has an illness/emergency/etc?

Will they give you names and numbers for families that use them now and use them in the past?

Are you welcome to drop in at any time?

How many kids can they keep? Will they keep?

And also the obvious licensing checks and checks with the state on any problems? I know where I live the in-home providers must be licensed but then there is pitiful, pitiful followup with any visits. I think most parents just pull their kids out when problem occurs and don't make a report.

We have our son in a center with a small ratio. I wasn't too fond of it when he was an infant but think I was just bitter about going back to work --although PT -- when he was just 14 weeks. As a two-year-old, I wouldn't have him anywhere else. He loves the interaction with other kids his age and it allows them to focus on things like potty training since all of the kids are similarly-aged. We;re in the south and paying about $700 a month.

Rachel said...

In the urbanish part of KY, infant care is $125 to $185 per week for full time care in homes or centers.

In my previous work I visited close to 120 different in-home childcare providers on a regular basis. It can be difficult to find a good provider, but the ones who are good are really good.

Most but not all states require some sort of licensing if a provider watches more than 3 kids that aren't related to them. Call the state licensing board to find out if any complaints have been filed against a provider. Also ask for references from current and former clients. Meet everyone who lives in the home because in an emergency someone else may end up caring for your child. Also, make sure you can stop by unannounced.

When I did my visits the majority were unannounced. In some cases if a provider knew I was coming things were very different than on unannounced visits. At the homes of the good providers, things will be the same either way.

Some states like NC & MN have an awesome rating system. Other states have them but they aren't great or are voluntary, KY's is voluntary and some of the better homes choose not to participate. The rating should only be one factor in choosing though.

Good luck! I think in-home daycare is wonderful, but because of the smaller group size you have to check it out much more throughly.

I decided to stay home with my son. As a favor to a friend I watch her daughter. It was supposed to be temporary, but after more than a year, I think it is so good for both kids, I will do it for as long as her parents will let me.

Rachel said...

Forgot to add:

A common thread in your comments is lack of an idea as to how to find in-home childcare providers. Check out your local NACCRRA agency. That is the National Association of Childcare Resource and Referral Agencies. Most will provide you with a list of regulated child care providers in your area, for free. Sorry no link, my internet connection won't cooperate.

Melissia said...

We found the best place to find care givers was at the local university. We checked with the early childhood development/ education department, checked the bulletin board, looked for a student, graduate student or wife looking for work or on break with their own child. What we found was a student who could keep our kids and get them to the university run program once they were old enough. She was with us for a total of 6 years, and is now a high school band teacher.
Anyway, if you have a college nearby, that if a great resource for responsible childcare in my experience.

Alex said...

I haven't read all the comments. Infant care in our area runs about $1250/month (center) or $1000 (home-based).

My son has been in a home-based place since 2 months old and will be (assuming things stay roughly the same there and for us) until he is 3.5. Same place. I looked at just 2 such places (and no other types) and picked the one I liked. Both were licensed, 5-star (highest) facilities. One was very structured and run by a single woman who lived with a high-school aged granddaughter (so some additional "adult" involvement in the afternoons), and one by a wife-and-husband team (he works a late shift job outside their home) with high-school aged DD. Both seemed good, but I went with the 2 adults (+ 1 teenager) one because it offered part-time (2- or 3-day a week slots, for less money than full time, obviously) and because -- in no particular order (a) there were 2 adults; (b) it involved fewer structured activities and more free play, which seemed to me right for this age group and my approach to parenting; (c) it involves a lot more outdoor time; and (d) it was noticeably closer to my home.

It's been a great choice for us, and I do like (and my son likes) the interaction with other small children. There are just 5 kids and all between the age of 0 and 3 or so, which I like.

I didn't ask a lot of questions ... I toured the place, confirmed that I could drop DS off or pick him up at any time of day (during their regular hours, obviously) ... certainly checked that TV wasn't part of the package ... checked several recent and prior references, and that was pretty much that. Of course having him there just 2 days/week puts lower pressure on everything being just right.

GL finding something that's right for you.

Alex said...

Oh ... and for me, the continuity of care providers (i.e. unless they close down, we've got the same caregivers simply by definition) was a big advantage to home day care, and starting DS there when he was really young worked well because by the time he was old enough to have fear of strangers, the care providers weren't strangers.

Anonymous said...

In our neck of the woods, we have a ca state run creche that has a sliding scale payment. There is huge difference in price between private and public, but the quality seems to be really good at the public place and they even have fully licensed nurses on staff who give the vaccinations. I think it's best to talk to people in your neck of the woods and figure it out because, from what I can read in the comments, it varies a tremendous amount.
allypally

Aunt Becky said...

I was fortunate to find an in-home daycare lady to bring Alex to a couple of hours a day (I don't work, but he needs the socialization like crazy). She's state certified which means she can't charge an arm and a leg.

I feel like I'm stealing from her. It's $4.50/hour. And I live in a really pricy area, so it's not just a local thing.

I wish you luck, Niobe. Tricky to find good daycare.

Perhaps you can rely on word of mouth?

Rach said...

In Australia (this is completely useless information) baby day care is between $1300AUS and $1600AUS per month. But, we all get some kind of rebate from the government (like 30%, 40%) and other tax incentives. Family Day care is less expensive. I am sure that helps you Niobe...

Sara said...

Its basically impossible to find a place in a center for a kid here, most people either stay home, or pay $3500-$4000/month for a nanny (no that is not a typo).