Licensed family child care homes refer to child care in an individual’s private home. The home may be rented, leased, or owned. It may be in a mobile home park or in an apartment. Because family child care is home-based, children tend to be cared for in a family-like setting with all the daily activities usually associated with home. The types of family child care homes vary widely, from the neighborhood parent who cares for a few children to a large family child care home that cares for up to 14 children. A family child care home is a business. You should expect professional service and should treat your provider as a professional.
The number of children cared for at a family child care home may vary, depending on the age of the children and whether an assistant is pre-sent. The children of the provider and assistant who are under the age of ten are included in determining the adult-to-child ratio. When looking at a family child care home:
- Find out how many adults and children are present.
- Ask the provider the number of children she is licensed for.
- Ask if she cares for school-age children.
- Finally, when you contact your local resource and referral agency and Community Care Licensing, double-check the ratio.
Family child care providers are required to be licensed if they care for the children of more than one family. Licensing has minimum health and safety standards that providers must follow. Licensing requires that providers take pediatric CPR, first aid, and health and safety classes. Providers may have additional education, such as a degree in early childhood education, community college courses, or training through child care associations. Providers may receive accreditation through the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). This organization’s mission is to recognize high quality in family child care.
Points to consider in choosing family child care
- Environment: Is the home clean and safe? Are latches on cabinets, plugs on outlets? Are the stairs, fireplace, and windows child-proofed? Are there any physical concerns you may have, such as a pool or unused cars or equipment in the backyard? Does the provider keep firearms in the home? If so, are they locked up and stored away from reach? Are there plenty of interesting and age-appropriate toys and materials for your child to play with? Does the provider offer a preschool program or help prepare your child for school? Does the provider offer transportation to and from school? If the provider transports your children, is the provider trained on car seat and vehicle safety? Ask about the provider’s driving record.
- Values: What are the provider’s philosophy and values? How does the provider discipline children? How does the provider individualize learning activities, nap, mealtime, and toilet training?
- Communication: Does the caregiver share information with you on how your child is doing? Can you visit at any time?
- Experience: How long has the caregiver provided child care? What type of education does she have? Did you contact Community Care Licensing for the caregiver’s past history?
- Operation: What hours does it operate? Does this provider offer evening, early morning, or weekend hours? What age and how many children will the provider care for? What is the staff-to-child care ratio the home must follow? Does the caregiver have children at home? Are the children counted in the ratio?
- Location: Where is the home? Is it close to your work, home, and health care provider?
- Cost: What are the monthly fees? Late fees? Registration fees? Is there a vacation or sick leave credit when your child is out?
- Back-up plan: What is the provider’s back-up plan? When does the provider go on vacation or take personal holidays? What types of experience do the assistant or substitute caregivers have?
Toys increase children's social and emotional development and improve their gross and fine motor coordination. Here are some guidelines to help you choose save toys for your child. Ask:
- What is the manufacturer's recommended age for the toy?
- Is it nontoxic?
- Is it washable?
- If it's electrical, does it carry the "UL Approved" label?
- Is it BIG enough to prevent choking?
- Is it sturdy with smooth edges and no small or loose parts?
- Does it have strings or cords that wrap around a child's neck?
- And finally, never let a child under five play with a balloon.