The Anxious Parents' Guide to Quality Childcare

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9780399525155: The Anxious Parents' Guide to Quality Childcare
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An information-packed, practical handbook designed to help parents find quality care for their children explains how to select the right kind of care for your child, find the best nanny or day-care facility, interview and screen applicants, and more, accompanied by checklists, sample contracts, and other resources. Original.

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About the Author:

Michelle Ehrich is a mother of two who is currently studying to be a special education teacher. During the time that she worked in finance in New York City, she was able to find long-term quality childcare. This is her first book.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From Chapter 1:Being a working parent means that you work two jobs: one to earn a paycheck and the other to ensure that your children are safe, happy and loved while you are doing the first job. The definition of a working parent is incomplete unless you include the words: "one who dreams of finding and keeping high quality, reliable, suitable childcare." As working parents, our productivity at our paycheck job, indeed our very sanity, are absolutely dependent upon our success in solving the childcare question. Parents can quickly and easily find someone to look after their child. The real challenge for working parents arises when they add the following modifiers to their childcare search: * HIGH QUALITY * * RELIABLE * * SUITABLE *

It is not always easy but it is very possible to do this successfully. I have and so have many other parents. During my childcare searches, I learned that finding the "right" caregiver and arrangement requires much more than just good intentions and luck. It requires an understanding and awareness of your present and potential needs as well as a systemic approach to evaluating and making your choices. Think of the amount of time, energy and research you devote to buying a car, a house or perhaps a wedding dress. The search for childcare is weightier and more emotional, thus deserves at least as much of your devotion.

From Chapter 3: Caring for your child is basically your life and present destiny; however, for the caregiver, it is a job. Of course, it should be a very meaningful and enjoyable one for the caregiver but, it is still a job which means that the person who does it needs to get a salary and, perhaps other benefits. Your job description is not complete without mention of compensation and benefits to be offered to the childcare provider. The objective is to structure the compensation and benefits in a way that shows the caregiver that you recognize the importance of the job responsibilities and have a professional respect for her and the work she is doing. Ultimately, you are trying to get the most efficient use of your childcare dollars by finding the best quality caregivers for your budget. You are not trying to find the cheapest (or most costly) childcare but rather the best.

From Chapter 6: When I first began to screen and interview live-in nanny candidates by telephone, I spent the bulk of the initial interview (immediately after the screening) discussing Candidate Qualifications and Job Requirements in a very factual and businesslike (yet not unfriendly) manner. In two early instances, once when I called back a candidate for the second interview and once when I spoke to the agency for feedback, I learned that the candidates had since made plans to visit another family (i.e. the face-to-face interview) because they "just hit it off right away with the mother/family (i.e. employer)". Then it dawned on me: even though I thought that our position and children were the best in the world, there was a lot of competition out there! Read that sentence again to make sure you remember it! This was an important lesson to be learned. I modified my interview methods, adopting a more conversational approach to form a personal connection with the candidate. I began to spend more time initially talking about the personalities of our children, our priorities in life, our perspectives on childcare and our community etc., then gradually shifting focus to learning more about the candidate's qualifications. It took a bit more time up front, but this enabled me to form a personal connection by selling the candidates on "us" - our family, our children, our job and our town - before I took the time to learn more about their qualifications and assess if I was interested in them. While the success of your efforts in "selling the job" to a strong candidate may not be immediately evident, your failure in this regard can be readily so.

From Chapter 8: The objective of the on-site visit for both family and daycare centers is to assess critically the environment and the quality of the childcare offered through observation (much like in the face-to-face interview of an in-home caregiver). This may seem a daunting task but it comes down to answering this simple question as you tour the center and speak to the caregiver: "If I were my child, would I want to spend my day here?"

Chapter 10: A few weeks after I returned to work following Sam's birth, it occurred to me that I was the "Manager" in the childcare relationship. Of course, I had hired and paid people before to do things around my house or for other services but, never before had I had a long-term, paying relationship with someone who I had trusted with so much responsibility (caring for my child!). This was something new. I realized that the nature of my relationship with the caregiver was almost as important as my child's relationship with her. As a working parent, you already know what it feels like to be an employee and how important it is to your job satisfaction to have a good working relationship with your boss. In some cases, you may also have had practice being a manager and perhaps understand what fosters good and bad employee relations. While the childcare situation is not exactly analogous to your own work situation, the key considerations of Respect, Communication and Compensation are applicable to both in insuring a positive and successful working relationship.

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Michelle Ehrich
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