Choosing the right care for children

Posted 11/10/09

Editors note: This is the first of a two-part series on the decisions of choosing daycare for your child. The second article will focus on …

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Choosing the right care for children


Editors note: This is the first of a two-part series on the decisions of choosing daycare for your child. The second article will focus on grandparents and their role in childcare, pricing of daycare and if your child has special needs.

Highlands Ranch resident Carrie Mumma said she is the “connoisseur of childcare.”

With the birth of her first child four years ago, she researched, investigated and tried to find a balance for the needs of her family as well as financially what they could afford for daycare.

“I asked a ton of questions,” Mumma said. “I even wanted to know about the caregiver’s faith and education.”

Deciding on your children’s type of childcare can be one of the most stressful and overwhelming decisions a parent has to make, considering the child will be spending many hours in their care.

“Parents need to make the best decision for themselves as well as for their child or children based on finances, environment, convenience, and adaptability,” counselor and therapist Amy Maddox with Pikes Peak Counseling in Parker said.

“Children who have a tendency to be more social may thrive in a typical daycare setting with higher numbers of children while other children who tend to be more shy may feel more comfortable staying with family or friends of family or even in a home-based daycare with smaller numbers.”

The Castle Academy in Castle Rock is a full-service, part-time, and after school childcare center.

“We try to simplify things for the parents,” Joel Green, director and owner said. From children just six weeks old up to kindergarten to off-track care, Green said they pride themselves on the care from their staff, the Montessori curriculum, and having their own children in the school.

“That should speak for itself,” Green said.

Andrea Price-Stogsdill, president of the Douglas County Childcare Association, said that parents can use this service to not only be referred to different licensed childcare providers, but use it as a resource for caregivers to continue their education, required by law.

“We have speakers each month for caregivers on how to prepare kids for kindergarten, different art ideas, and how to report abuse or neglect for example,” Price-Stogsdill said.

Price-Stogsdill is also the owner of her home childcare business, Little Engine Home Daycare in Highlands Ranch, and has a strong connection with her families and their children. She offers structure, a preschool curriculum, and open communication with the parents.

“I have ‘predictable’ days for the children,” Price-Stogsdill said. “There isn’t the chance for the children to act-up because they are not bored.”

The Douglas County Childcare Association, along with Childcare Network and Colorado Association of Family Childcare, are there as a resource to help parents during this stressful time.

Some childcare centers or home-based daycares are not licensed by the state, and therefore may be less expensive. The benefits of going to a licensed childcare provider, in the State of Colorado, are there are several steps the caregiver has to go through. From the initial application, to fingerprinting and background checks to requirements of CPR and first-aid classes and physicals of all the teachers.

When Mumma’s first child began to crawl, she said she had to re-evaluate her child’s surroundings. Initially she had chosen a daycare center for her child, feeling that the more eyes on her child, the better. As her son needed more attention, she didn’t feel like the original setting was giving him enough structure.

“I wanted a balance of socialization and education,” Mumma said. “So I felt the ratio of an in-home setting, along with preschool curriculum, was what he needed.”

When interviewing daycare options, there are many questions parents need to consider.

What is the daily schedule?

If it is a home environment, who besides the caregiver will be home.

What about certain dietary needs of your child?

What are the caregiver’s sickness guidelines?

What happens if you are late in picking up your child?

Dr. Kathleen Sandal-Miller, a psychologist with undergraduate study in early child development had a client one time who said her family wasn’t into football at all, yet her child all of a sudden became a huge Bronco fan.

“My client didn’t know the daycare provider’s husband was around the home a lot,” Sandal-Miller said. “Not that he was a bad man, but just that people need to make sure they ask a lot of questions.”

Sandal-Miller said parents need to take this decision to heart because they are handing over responsibilities of raising their child to someone else. Always look at the facilities credentials, and make sure they are not taking on too much, or too many children she said.

“What is the ratio of attention?” Sandal-Miller said. “Who are the other children in the group?”

Another idea for researching childcare settings, according to Sandal-Miller is to drop in unannounced.

“If they seem put-off by it, then you should wonder why.”

“Is the daycare able to tell you about your child’s day?” Sandal-Miller said.

Providing the child’s family with a daily “report card” or a bulletin board for communication on how their child was feeling, how they slept and ate and socialized with others, is an important aspect to consider.

Mumma said that she felt the most crucial planning phase of choosing a daycare setting was to first decide what was most important to the family, and then tailor questions that way.

“I can pick my kids up at 5 p.m. because their daycare is close to work,” Mumma said. “You have to really communicate your needs, stay within your budget, and decide what your a), b) and c) are.”

She said until you know what your needs are, those standard questions you find on the Internet don’t really matter.


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