TAMPA - "Finding someone to care for your child is probably one of the most difficult decisions that a parent makes," said Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks. "You want to make sure that you've got your child in a loving, safe environment. But in a recent Angie's List poll, 20 percent of the respondents didn't even check whether their child care provider was licensed or had the proper credentials and that is something you must do."
The first step is deciding which of the common choices for child care is right for you.
"You need to start your search for child care much earlier than you probably even imagine," said Hicks. "About the time that you're telling all your family members that you are expecting is really when you should start looking for child care because there's likely going to be a wait list. You also need to be prepared that you're probably going to have to give a deposit as well so just know exactly what you have to do, but starting early is going to alleviate the stress down the road."
10 tips to help streamline your child care decision-making:
Angie's List Tips: Questions parents should ask
Angie's List: What to look for when touring a facility
• Watch for obvious signs that an establishment is safe and comfortable for children. Look for potential hazards or signs of poor cleaning habits.
• Observe children's overall mood and temperament. Do they seem happy and engaged? Are they being watched or ignored?
• Notice caregivers' appearance and attitude. Do they dress and act appropriately around children? Are they afraid to crawl on the floor and get their hands dirty?
Once you have chosen the daycare facility that best suits the needs of your child – stay involved! Parents need to constantly assess the child care arrangement. Spend a few minutes
each day to talk with the caregiver about your child and ask your child what he or she does during the day. And drop in every once in a while to assess if the facility still meets your expectations and participate in activities.