How to Source Childcare
Sourcing childcare can be a difficult task, especially for new parents. Every parent wants to ensure that their child will be safe, loved, and attended to, but how to find that perfect person can be challenging. One of the best pieces of advice for any expecting parent is to start the search early. It will feel strange to think about this before your baby is even born, but in some areas of the country, early research and enrollment in day care centers is the only way you’ll even get a spot in the one you want your baby to attend!
One of the best ways to find out about the quality of area daycare centers or nannies is word of mouth. Post a question on your family or mother’s group forum, asking if anyone has any recommendations or if they’re had any good–or bad–experiences with a particular option you are considering. Chances are, if you hear several people respond with glowing reviews about a center you’re considering, you’ll feel confident in your selection. Most centers and all nannies can provide family references too, so be sure to collect those and contact each one. Here are some tips to consider when starting your childcare search:
It’s important for you and your partner to be on the same page in terms of finances and what you can afford. Having an open and honest conversation will help to narrow down how much help you can afford (i.e., how many days a week you can have childcare), nanny versus daycare, etc. Having this discussion upfront is crucial in order to set yourself up for success. If not, you may be disappointed to find someone or a daycare you love but cannot afford. Work within your budget and go from there.
Once you establish a budget, you can then discuss the different childcare options. Beyond budget, figure out what option works best for your child’s needs, work schedule, etc. This will help to create a seamless and smooth transition for you and your family. It's important to not rule out any options off the bat -- take everything into consideration -- do your research, make pros and cons list, etc. to ensure you are gathering all the information you need to make the best, most informed decision.
There are many providers to choose from, therefore, the process can be pretty overwhelming to say the least. However, it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make, so go slow and do the research to narrow down to a list of 10 providers to conduct interviews with. It’s best to start with more options than less because likely you’ll want to interview more people than you think. Finding the right person takes time so trust the process and try not to rush it.
Similar to when you’re being interviewed for a job, you want to get to know the person to see if they would be a good fit for your child and family. Knowing the right questions to ask will make it easier to make a decision and compare your talent against one another to understand who is the best option for you. Before the interview, prepare questions and discuss with your family what you are and what you aren’t willing to bend on. Some things may be non-negotiable while others may feel more flexible. Here are a few questions to get you started:
• How many years of experience do you have caring for children and do you have any credentials or certifications?
• Can you tell me about your past work history as it relates to childcare?
• Do you have a valid driver’s license?
• How do you handle medical emergencies?
• What type of activities might you do with my child(ren)?
• Are you up to date on your knowledge and training?
• How do you handle challenging situations (ex. infant crying)?
A nanny placement agency can help parents (and nannies!) to answer many of these questions and screen out candidates that don’t match up to a family’s specific preferences. Additionally, an agency can provide reference checks, background screening, and even provide support with helping families with tasks such as contracts and locating payroll services. Agencies are typically aware of industry standards for pay and time off, or other such benefits. Above all, agencies are able to manage pieces of the nanny search puzzle and alleviate some of the work and pressure for busy parents.
The pandemic has made sourcing childcare increasingly difficult for families due to the dramatic change in landscape for child care. Many daycares have closed due to the financial struggle of COVID-19, and the ones that have survived have very limited capacity due to overwhelming demand. A nanny agency has a large network of professionals, making it easier to find options that you may not have been able to find on your own.
About Carole Kramer Arsenault
Carole Kramer Arsenault is an RN, author of Newborn 101 and founder of Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny, a leading agency of overnight and daytime newborn caregivers, and pre- and postpartum support services. As a parent educator and founder of a childcare staffing agency, Carole has more than a decade of experience working with thousands of families to help them source childcare and match them with top-notch providers that best fits their family’s needs.