Family Daycare

This childcare option is growing in popularity. Unlike a daycare center, a family daycare provider cares for children in her own home. Often, one or more of the children in the group are her own.

Most states have licensing requirements for family daycare, but some providers operate illegally, either because they cannot meet the health, safety, or educational requirements of their state licensing agency, or because they do not want to declare their daycare income to the IRS (these will insist that you pay them in cash). If you live in a state that licenses family daycare operations, resist the urge to check out that nice, but unlicensed, child-care provider down the street, and only consider licensed child-care providers.

Alert

Since some state requirements are fairly minimal, it is important to check out even licensed family daycare situations carefully.

Make a List of Providers in Your Area

Start your search by obtaining a list of licensed child-care providers in your area from your state child-care or child-welfare agency. Ask friends and neighbors if they know of any good family daycare providers and check to see if those people are on your list. Call those names first and ask if they have room for your child.

It can be harder to find family daycare for an infant than for a toddler, since child-care providers typically can accept only one or two infants into their group. If a provider is recommended but doesn't have room for your child in the near future, ask her to recommend someone who might.

Essential

Depending on the age of your child and the provider's requirements, you'll need to have a diaper bag packed each day with diapers, wipes, bottles, bibs, a few changes of clothes, and so on. Coupled with having to get your child fed, dressed, and ready (and getting yourself ready, too), all this can make early mornings at your home a bit hectic.

Make an Appointment

If a provider meets your requirements, make an appointment to visit her during the day. She may ask you to come during naptime, but make sure you see her in action while all the children are awake too. Spend some time there and check the place out as best you can. Ask other parents for their feedback as well.

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