Once you have selected a child care arrangement you, of course, may feel relieved that the decision is made and the selection process complete. However, your responsibility as a parent for evaluating your child's care has not ended. As an intelligent consumer of child care services, you will need to monitor your chosen program in an ongoing fashion. This will help protect your child and allow you peace of mind.
It is not always easy for parents to know just how to begin to develop a good relationship with their child care provider and how to monitor the care their child receives. Here are some suggestions to help you get off to a good start.
A NOTE ABOUT INSTINCTS
One of the most important things a parent can do when interviewing child care providers is to pay attention to their instincts. What is your reaction to a place or provider? Do you feel comfortable around the provider? Often our instincts tell us things that we cannot define or put into words. Trust your instincts, even if you cannot explain them.
Attend any parent meetings at the child care center or home. Ask to have meetings set up if they are not already being held. Let the center director or provider know that you are interested in meeting periodically with other parents and the staff.
- Offer to collect free household items for the children to make things with. These may include egg cartons, fabric, jars, magazines, etc.
- If you have a skill such as cooking, sewing, woodworking, playing a musical instrument or storytelling, offer to come to the center or home and share it with the children.
- Volunteer to go on field trips, plan special events for parents and/or children, phone other parents about events, or make a special food for a birthday or holiday party.
- Contribute to or offer to start a newsletter for parents about the center or home.
- Clip articles from newspapers and magazines that may be of interest to the caregiver. These might include ideas for field trips, arts and crafts, recipes or child development issues.
- Ask questions daily about the day's events and how your child participated.
No matter what form of child care you choose, it is very important for parents to drop in unannounced once in a while to see how things are going. Observe activities that are going on, how many children are present, how well the children are being supervised, the conditions of the home or center and whether the children present seem to be enjoying themselves. Notice also if there are any other adults present that you are not familiar with. Always ask who they are, their reason for being there and how often they are there.