5 ways to find a childcare service that suits you

Finding the right childcare provider for your family can be a difficult. With increasingly busy schedules and rising family budgets, having a full-time, stay-at-home parent is not possible for many families. The need for quality childcare providers is more in demand than ever. There is nothing more important than knowing your child is in a quality-care situation.

In 2016, Better Business Bureau received almost 95,000 inquiries from consumers researching childcare service companies in the Miami Valley area alone.

BBB offers these tips to help in your search and ensure the best care for your little ones:

Determine what type of childcare is right for you. It is crucial to understand the different types, such as day care centers or in-home care, full or part-time, before or after school.

Determine what is important to you and your child. For instance, how would you want discipline, meals, electronics use, naptime and outside play handled? Check to see if your potential childcare provider is first aid and CPR certified with insurance, and how they handle emergency situations.

Visit and ask questions. Stop by and check out facilities you're considering. Observe how the staff interact with the children and ask about their education, training and how long they have been working there. Are they attentive to all the children and readily available for emergency situations? Be sure the caregiver is properly licensed and insured, and meets your needs for location, hours and cost. Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization, such as The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Child Care. Inspect the building and equipment, such as porches, decks, floors, walls, child-sized furniture, bedding arrangements and any outdoor swing sets. Make sure everything is up to code on safety and fire regulations. Childcare centers should be clean, organized, childproofed and contain books and toys that are age appropriate. If you're considering in-home care, make sure your candidate is readily available and can make at least a one-year commitment to the job. Also, ask about meals and snacks, sick child policy and security.

Test it out. Have your child spend part of the day in the center or home and discuss his or her experience with the caregiver or center personnel. Be alert to your child's reaction and behavior, allowing time for adjustment.

Keep talking and trust your judgment. Unless your child is older, the only information you will be getting about the care will come from the caregiver. Make sure you communicate often and comfortably with each other. Don't be afraid to address any problems you are having as quickly as possible. Your child deserves a good, nurturing caregiver and to enjoy the time they must be away from you. Pop in unannounced periodically to see how things are going.

Do your research, go online to bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 for a BBB list of Accredited childcare services and get Business Profiles on ones you're considering. Also, ask friends and family for recommendations. Your pediatrician may also be able to provide a referral.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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