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Childcare Resources

Types of Childcare
Several types of child care are available in most communities. During the first two years of life, children often do better with individual care or family daycare because they need a great deal of cuddling and personal attention. The types of child-care arrangements are (in descending order of preference for younger infants):

Individual care in your own home

This is the preferred arrangement for infants. A relative or professional sitter usually provides the care. Often you will need to advertise for a sitter in the local newspaper. You must check the applicant's references carefully, especially for characteristics that are important to you. Most professional sitters will stay in your home just while you are gone, but some are available as live-ins (nannies).

Individual care in someone else's home

This arrangement is similar to the previous, but your child will have to be transported every day. In addition, you will need to pack diapers, bottles, toys and other supplies.

Family daycare homes

In these settings, the daycare provider is responsible for two to six children in her home. This type of daycare is usually less expensive than center-based care. Children do not usually receive as much attention as in individual care, and many of these homes are not licensed or monitored by the state.

Center-based daycare

A daycare center may care for 30 or more children. Many children do not adapt well to these large centers until they are about 2 or 2 1/2 years old. In some fortunate situations, daycare centers are located at the workplace, but this is uncommon in the U.S. Daycares are state-licensed and must comply with certain standards. If you are looking for a daycare center, assemble a list of centers by asking friends or by looking in the Yellow Pages under "Childcare" or "Day Nurseries and Childcare." Don't make your final decision about a child-care center until you have visited it and observed for several hours.

The Substitute Caregiver: Choosing the Right Person
The most important factor in choosing a childcare resource is finding a daycare provider who understands and meets your children's emotional needs. Choose someone who is warm, affectionate and sympathetic; who plays with the children; and who has a sense of humor. Look for someone who listens to and complies with your style of child rearing (for example, methods of discipline or toilet training). Form a close partnership with your child's caregiver.

Helping Your Child Adjust to Daycare
When you take your child to daycare for the first day, plan on spending the day. Let your child gradually reach out and become involved with the other children and the caregiver(s). On the second day, stay 5 or 10 minutes while your child makes the transition to interacting with the care provider. If possible, leave a familiar toy or security object with your child. If the center is near your workplace, visit your child during the day. When you leave your child, do so with a cheerful attitude and let your child know you are leaving - don't sneak away.