Choosing a provider for your child is one of the most important decisions you face as a parent. Finding good child care takes lots of time and work. Make sure you start early in planning your child's care.
Whether your preference is for a licensed family child care home, a child care center, a nanny or a sitter, you will want to have complete information about your options before you make your choice.
Community Resources for Children (CRC) is the child care resource and referral agency funded by the State of California for Napa County. The referral coordinators at CRC can help you to understand your needs and options. They will listen to your questions and concerns; however, they can't make your decision. That is up to you. You need to examine your own values and beliefs about bringing up children and you must be confident that the caregiver you choose has values that you respect, and will give your child individual, caring attention.
Starting Your Research - Types of Child Care
As you begin your search, think about the type of child care you want for your child.
Small Family Child Care Homes are licensed to care for eight children, including the provider's own children under age 10. At least two of the children must be 6 or older and no more than two may be infants. If six or fewer children are being cared for in the home, three may be infants.
Large Family Child Care Homes are licensed to care for 14 children and must have a second caregiver present. At least two of the children must be 6 or older and no more than three may be infants. If twelve or fewer children are being cared for in the home, four may be infants when a second caregiver is present.
All children under 10 years of age who live in the home must be counted in the licensed capacity. All assistant provider's children under 12 years of age and all other children under age of 18 who do not live in the home, must be counted in the licensed capacity. All persons residing in the home who are over 18 years of age must have received a fingerprint clearance. A current tuberculosis clearance is required for all adults residing in the home, or present in the home, during the time that children are in care. All family child care homes must contain a smoke detector and fire extinguisher. Those licensed for nine to fourteen children must obtain a fire clearance. All swimming pools or any other bodies of water must be made inaccessible to children by the use of a five-foot fence or a cover, which is strong enough to support the weight of an adult.
All providers must have fifteen hours of health and safety training including CPR, First Aid, and Health Training. CPR and First Aid. Certificates must be kept current.
Child Care Centers are licensed to care for groups of more than twelve children. Staff must meet educational requirements. The facility must meet building, fire, and zoning codes. Specific adult/child ratios required in child care centers are:
Ages of Children /Number of Adults Required
Infants (Birth to two years old): 1 Adult for every 4 infants Preschoolers (two to five years old): 1 Adult for every 12 children
School-agers (Kindergarten to twelve years): 1 Adult for every 14 children
Exempt Child Care child care that has not been inspected for health and safety. Exempt caregivers do not need a background in caring for children and have not had their backgrounds checked for criminal or child abuse activity. Child care that is exempt includes:
A person hired to care for your child in your home. A family child care home that cares for children from one family only. A "drop-in" arrangement such as health club or co-op. Recreation programs that operate for less than 13 hours per week or no longer than 12 weeks during the year (i.e. summer camp programs). Child care programs that are run by the school district.
Any care and supervision of children by a relative or guardian.
In-Home Child Care includes babysitters or nannies hired by the parent to care for child in the parent's home. Specific tax and employment rules apply to this type of care.
Trustline was created by the California State Legislature to offer an important service for parents who want to use in-home child care or licensed-exempt providers to care for their children. (Trustline offers a means of checking the background of a caregiver to make sure they are clear of any disqualifying criminal convictions and child abuse records).
Finding Child Care
Call Community Resources for Children for referrals at 707-253-0376. Check newspaper ads, yellow pages and local bulletin boards.
Ask relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors for recommendations.
Choosing Your Caregiver
Telephone the providers referred to you by Community Resources for Children and briefly discuss:
The ages of children in provider's care. Days and hours your child needs care. Any special needs your child may have. The experience and/or education of the provider.
A description of the program and what your child will be doing all day
Make an appointment to visit the sites with your child. Choose a time when children are there. Ask questions. Making a list beforehand helps you to cover all the important points.
Child Care Resources
Terms of Your Agreement
If you make an appointment, keep it. Child Care Providers have busy schedules. Their time is valuable. If you can't make the appointment, phone and let the provider know. Ask lots of questions. Find out how the provider feels about things that are important to you. Ask for names and phone numbers of other parents who have children in care. Recommendations from other parents are a good basis for your decision. Read and review your contract with your provider before you sign it.
Make sure you and the provider agree on these basic points:
What is the cost of care and when is it due? Do you pay for holidays, provider's vacation, your vacations, and other absences, such as when your child is sick? Is there a charge if you are late picking up your child? Who has the authority to pick up your child? What do you need to bring for your child? What are the grounds, notice, and payment requirements for ending your child care arrangement? What are the methods of toilet training? What kinds of toys, materials, equipment, books are used? Are the materials, activities and schedules appropriate? What is the provider's philosophy on discipline? What kinds of meals are served? Does the provider offer meals or participate in the Child Care Food Program, or must you bring food each day? Is there a set time for naps? Are all the children expected to take naps? Is TV used? How much, and which programs? Will the provider care for sick children? Do you have a back up plan? Has the provider completed First Aid, CPR, and Health and Safety training?
Is the provider prepared for emergencies? How will you be contacted?
Develop a good relationship with the person caring for your child. You will need to make a few changes and accept some differences. Remember, no one will take care of your child exactly the same way you would. Pay your fees on time. Bring items you are responsible for. Pick up your child on time or make arrangements with the provider.
Make sure you have the provider's name, address and telephone number with you. Leave several emergency telephone numbers with your provider (friend, relative, your child's doctor).
Take time to talk regularly with your provider and your child about activities, needs and preferences. Develop the kind of relationship with your provider that encourages open communication.
Preparing Your Child
Make sure you have visited the facility with your child before the first day. Be positive about the new situation. Talk about new friends, experiences and activities. Make sure your child knows when you are leaving and reassure him or her that you will always return. Never sneak away. You are trying to establish trust in this new situation and sneaking away seriously undermines this beginning trust. Let your child take a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or toy, even a picture of the family. These things will give your child comfort.something from home he or she can touch and hold.
No matter how well you have prepared your child, he/she may be confused and upset at first. Tantrums, bedwetting, resentment toward you and bad dreams are some of the ways your child may react. Usually this is only temporary and is the way your child is dealing with the change. Take a little extra time in the morning when you leave your child with the provider, and in the evening when you pick him/her up.