My Child Has... Article

My Child Has...

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Child Care: Infant/Toddler Family Care


What is family child care?

Family child care is done by providers who are licensed to care for children in their home. The caregiver is often a mother with her own small children. Family child care providers are licensed by the state. The states also have rules about the number of adults needed to take care of a certain number of children. Generally, a child care home should not have more than 6 children per adult caregiver, including the caregiver's own children. No caregiver working alone should care for more than 2 children who are under 2 years of age.

Ask the Child Care Provider:

  • Can you tell me more about your background and experience?
  • What are some reasons you enjoy taking care of children? Do you have children of your own?
  • How will my child be transported if you leave the house? Do I need to provide a car seat?
  • What are your expectations regarding length of commitment?
  • Do you smoke? Do you have any health problems?
  • Are you trained in first aid and CPR for children?
  • What kinds of activities might you plan for my child?
  • What are your views on discipline? Meals? Television? Computers? Video Games? Playmates?
  • What would you do if ____? (Give examples relevant to your situation: medical and personal emergencies, common problems with child.)
  • Can you give me several references?
  • May I have a tour of your home?
  • Do you have a current licensing permit?
  • What are the tuition payments? When are they due?
  • What are the hours? Holiday and vacation schedule?
  • Do you provide meals or snacks? Is there a charge for food?
  • What other extra charges might I expect to pay?
  • Are fees reduced if more than one child enrolls?
  • Are deductions offered for periods of absence?
  • What is the caregiver to child ratio? Federal guidelines for centers suggest no more than 1:3 for infants 1:4 for toddlers 1:8 for children aged 3 to 6.
  • What is the procedure for medical emergencies?
  • What are the policies regarding illness? (for example, are parents contacted if another child has a contagious disease? Does caregiver have someone to substitute in case she gets sick?)
  • What questions do you have for me?

Observe or Ask About:

Home

Does the home have:

  • plenty of toys and art materials?
  • enough indoor and outdoor space for children to play?
  • special areas for quiet and active play?
  • safe, creative outdoor play equipment?
  • a quiet place for homework?
  • places to practice extracurricular skills (sports, music, dance)?
  • smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Regular fire drills? Alternate exits?

Caregiver

Does the caregiver:

  • welcome my questions and suggestions?
  • share my childrearing philosophy?
  • take time to share my child's experiences with me?
  • really listen and talk to the children?
  • sensitively handle feelings of fear, shyness, upset, and anger?
  • respect each child's unique background and interests?
  • guide rather than direct behavior?
  • seem cheerful, affectionate, and warm?
  • have training and experience in early child education?
  • establish and consistently maintain limits?

Program

Does the program:

  • balance active, physical activities with quiet, restful ones?
  • provide ample rest and nap times?
  • prohibit play that could quickly get out of hand?
  • patiently encourage toddlers to solve some problems on their own?
  • help children deal with feelings constructively?
  • have a well-defined, predictable schedule of daily activities?
  • balance structured and unstructured activities?
  • encourage language development?

Health and Safety

  • Is each child required to have an up-to-date immunization record?
  • Does the facility meet state standards for how many children can be taken care of by one staff person?
  • Are staff and children taught to wash hands with soap and water after diaper changes or contact with body fluids?
  • Does the home have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Regular fire drills? Alternate exits?
  • Are important phone numbers posted near the phone? (Examples include police, fire, poison control center, hospital, children's physician, ambulance.)
  • Does your caregiver always know how to get in touch with both parents?
  • Are parents contacted if another child has a contagious illness or an accident?
  • Is your child always watched, indoors and out?
  • Is your baby checked often when in a crib or playpen?
  • Is all baby equipment strong, stable, and in good repair?
  • Is the crib latched?
  • Are the crib slats no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart? Does the crib have bumper pads? Does the mattress fit firmly along the side of the crib?
  • Does the home have separate cribs and crib sheets for each infant?
  • Do strollers or infant seats have safety harnesses?
  • Are the crib and playpen free of toys that could be used to climb out?
  • Can all doors be opened from the outside at all times?
  • Are the doors and windows locked?
  • Do strong screens or metal bars cover the windows (especially important above ground level)? Do all glass doors have decals?
  • Are the rooms well ventilated and comfortable year-round?
  • Are the bathroom facilities clean and easily accessible to children?
  • Are latched safety gates placed at the top and/or bottom of stairways?
  • Are stairways and walkways free from clutter?
  • Are small, sharp, or otherwise dangerous items out of reach or locked in a cupboard, drawer, or cabinet? (Examples include pins, thumbtacks, paper clips, matches, lighters, knives, plastic bags, scissors, guns, razor blades, glassware, working appliances.)
  • Are poisonous items stored out of reach or locked in cupboards, drawers, or cabinets? (Examples include cleaning products, polish, bleach, medicines, cosmetics, perfumes, aerosol cans, and first aid supplies.)
  • Are the home and yard free from poisonous plants?
  • Are all foods or drinks within reach safe for your child? (Examples of dangerous foods or beverages: any food that a child could choke on like popcorn or hard candy beverages that are hot or alcoholic.)
  • Is your child kept away from dangerous places like the stove or hot water faucets? Do all electrical sockets have protective covers?
  • Have furniture and other household objects with sharp corners been padded or removed?
  • Has attention been paid to objects that could be pulled or knocked over? (Examples include tablecloths, electrical cords, lamps, furniture.)
  • Is your child safe around pets? Are pet dishes out of reach?
  • Are toys safe, clean, and in good repair?
  • Are play surfaces, indoors and out, softened with carpeting or wood chips?
  • Is the outdoor area fenced and free of hazards?
  • Is the play equipment safe and appropriate for my child's level of development?

Meals

  • Is my caregiver knowledgeable about my baby's food requirements and feeding schedule?
  • Does the caregiver serve food I want my child to eat?
  • Are children allowed to leave food on their plates? (They should never be forced to eat.)
  • Are portions small and second helpings available?
  • Is the kitchen clean?

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-28
Last reviewed: 2009-05-26

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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