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Searching for quality local child care can provide a variety of child care providers to choose from. It can be difficult to narrow down the choices if you do not know what to look for. Use the following core components of child care to help you make your decision for finding quality child care near you.

Staff Training & Education

Caregivers who are trained in Child Development or Early Childhood Education and/or who have experience with children generally do a better job than those who do not. Whether care is being provided by a regulated child care center or a regulated family child care provider out of their home, all staff members should have a minimum level of training and regulation. YoungStar quality child care ratings give parents an easy way to weigh their options. Ratings are based on the provider’s education and training; the learning environment and curriculum; the program’s professional and business practices and the children’s health and well-being.

 Environment

The safety of the child is a prime concern of both parents and providers. Equipment, both indoors and outdoors, should be safe and suitable to children’s ages. Hazardous items should be stored away from children. The layout of space affects children’s behavior. Physical space should be organized so children know where things are and how they can be found. Large individual spaces can lead to loud and aggressive behavior, so space should be divided into areas where children can work and play together. Children need small, quiet places in the environment when they need to have some time to themselves. All children need a variety of toys and educational materials that are age appropriate.

Child/Teacher Ratio

Remember to consider whether the child/teacher ratio is appropriate for your child. Generally, the less children in a group, the more attention a caregiver will be able to provide. When talking to providers, make sure to ask them whether they are compliant with Wisconsin's requirements for child/teacher ratios.

Parental Involvement

The best child care programs welcome a fair amount of parental involvement and feedback. Family child care providers and child care centers who involve parents in decision making and goal setting for their child make sure that the child has consistent objectives and expectations at home and with their caregivers. The more two-way communication that providers emphasize, the more comfortable you will feel with their care. If you have any questions about looking for child care in your area, you can contact us using this form or email us at referral@4-C.org or call us at 1-800-750-KIDS.

Choosing a good child care arrangement is an important decision that can improve the daily lives of children and parents. Parents should always check with the regulating agency to see if there have been any complaints or concerns against the child care program.

There are many reasons a parent might choose to stay at home and care for their child. Whatever the reason, the decision to stay at home has an impact on your family’s household income and budget. To offset this, stay at home parents should consider becoming a certified family child care provider.

Becoming a certified provider would allow you to care for up to 3 unrelated children under the age of 7 within your home. Note that you would only be able to care for a maximum of 6 children (including your own) at a time. Certification opens the door to eligibility for our food program, which provides subsidies to providers who feed the children in their care nutritious food; a listing in our 4-C Referral Database; and support, resources, and technical assistance from 4-C to help providers succeed.

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Beyond the resources 4-C provides, there are other benefits to becoming certified. One of the immediate benefits is the extra income. There are plenty of parents who have turned their at home child care operation into their main source of income. If you have a passion for caring for children, then why not make money from that passion?

A major benefit is the ability to be your own boss. Running your own child care operation can be fulfilling and satisfying. Being at home means you control the schedule and environment, and you don’t have to operate on someone else’s time. You would have the ability to establish your own hours and structure your own day.

One of the best parts of becoming a provider is getting to experience the joy of helping raise and guide children. You are already getting to experience that with your own child, and caring for other people’s only multiplies that experience. Everyday would be a new adventure for both you and the children that you would be caring for. Very little can match the sheer joy of helping a child grow and develop.

Before becoming certified, there are plenty of things to consider, but if you are already choosing to stay at home with your own child, 4-C highly recommends becoming a certified child care provider. If you are looking to begin the process of certification, or you have questions about certification, contact us through our online form or at our email: certification@4-C.org.

It's hard for everyone involved - the clinging, the crying - all sure signs of separation anxiety. While this behavior is totally normal, it certainly isn't easy for parents, children or caregivers. Here are some tips for easing separation anxiety in children when dropping them off at child care or school:

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  • Before a child's first day, talk to their caregiver or teacher and come up with a plan for your goodbye routine. Being consistent is crucial - routines are important for easing separation anxiety.
  • Always say goodbye, even if it's hard for both of you, as sneaking out can make a children's anxiety worse.
  • Take a breath and stay calm - children are often able to sense anxiety.
  • Shorter good-byes are easier. Give your child a hug, say good-bye and allow the teacher to take over. You can ask in advance if the center or school could call or text you to let you know how the child is doing a little while after you leave.
  • Give your child a piece of you to keep all day. For example, you could tie a special string bracelet around your child's wrist, then kiss it and say something like, "I'm filling this with my love." When your child is feeling sad or missing you, he/she can touch the bracelet to get an instant reminder of a loved one.
  • Read classic books that tackle separation anxiety, like Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Misses Mama or Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand. Once your child knows the story, say something like, "I always come back, just like Mama Llama does."

Source: "8 Smart Ways to Ease Daycare and Preschool Separation Anxiety." What to Expect, What to Expect Foundation, 14 Feb. 2019, www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/photo-gallery/ease-daycare-and-preschool-separation-anxiety.aspx.

The transition to child care can be a nerve-wracking time in a parent’s life. Finding a provider that works for your family can be challenging and time-consuming. Make finding child care simple by following our handy guide.

Check Your References

The first step is finding out what child care is available. Our Referral Department can help you locate regulated providers through consultation and referrals from a database of nearly 1,000 child care programs throughout southern Wisconsin.

Figure Out What’s Important

Now that you have a list of child care options near you, it’s time to figure out which one is best for your family. Before you can do that though, you need to figure out what requirements you have for child care. We’ve provided some basic things to look for when judging the quality of care, but it is important for you to consider the specifics of what your child needs.

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Is Anything Wrong?

One of the first things you should look for when evaluating a provider is whether they have any complaints or concerns against them. To find out, make sure to check with the appropriate regulatory agency. You can find out how to contact them on this page.

Child Care Costs

A major consideration for parents is the cost of each program. Child care can be expensive, so making sure that you get the best price that fits your family’s budget is very important. We’ve collected data from child care programs in the 4-C service delivery area and created reports on wages, rates, benefits, and enrollments to help parents watch their wallets.

Make First Contact

After you’ve made all the preparations, it is time to get in contact with each provider to ask them about their program. Making sure to have a written list of questions to ask each child care program ahead of time can help you feel more confident about the provider you choose.

Help Your Wallet

Once they’ve found the right child care option, you should always consider exploring different options for alleviating the cost of child care. Any option that can lessen the financial impact is worth taking a look into.

If you have questions about finding child care in southern Wisconsin you can contact us using this form, email us at referral@4-C.org, or call us at 1-800-750-KIDS

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