The recent Cincinnati Enquirer story about a child pornographer preying on children in his mother’s family child care home may cause some parents to shy away from considering family child care as an option… I hope this won’t be the case. Instead, let this story drive you to ask questions of the person who are trusting to care for your child—and to keep asking them.
I knew my youngest daughter would not do well in a center environment. She was never quite settled unless she was being held or talked to most of the time. When things got loud, she got upset, and though she would sleep four hours at a time one day, she’d only nap for 15 minutes on another. I knew that she needed a smaller, more quiet environment and have one caregiver. Friends and family weighed in with lots of questions when I began considering family child care: “How do you know who is in that home?” “What is going on if other people aren’t around?” “What if you don’t like the providers family members, like their husband or older children?”
I asked myself all of these questions as I visited family child care providers in my area. After visiting four providers, I selected one who was Kentucky certified. This meant that the provider – and her husband – had had a criminal background check and a home visit. (Unfortunately not all states provide licensing for small family child care homes. Ohio is one of only five states where this is the case, and state licensing is only required when more than six children are cared for.)
My journey with family child care began when Rebecca was eight weeks old and ended when she was 3. I had to ask, and keep asking, what Rebecca’s day would be like, where she would sleep, how her meals were prepared, where she would play, what would be on TV, what other children would come into the home when older children returned from school, what neighbors might visit… And when her husband was home sick, where did he stay? It seemed that at least weekly, and then monthly, I had a new set of questions.
My provider was never hesitant to answer my questions. She never felt I was being silly. She had a true “open door” policy, and I took advantage of it, dropping in whenever I needed to, at different times of the day. This is what kept reassuring me that I had made a good choice.
Family child care providers are a valuable resource, and I have a deep respect for these providers who open their homes to care for children. But you do have to be an active participant in your child’s care, and a good family child care provider will welcome that.