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The Care and Handling of Your Childcare Provider

I’ve been working in childcare since 1985. I’ve got some ideas for you to keep your child and provider happy.

Arrive near the time that you say you will. If not, call. Most providers have more children than just yours and may have to drop off kids at school or want to take them out and about. A waiting provider is not a happy provider.

Make sure that you provide the things your child needs to be happy and comfortable. Diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and a lovey item. Even if your child is potty trained, the kid next to him might spill milk all over. A change of their own clothing makes kids comfortable. Weather appropriate clothing is a must. It’s a shame if the entire group must stay in because you “forgot” snow pants. (I have my own supply to prevent this, but, it’s too bad that I must.)

Don’t bring extra stuff without asking. Most providers have a wealth of items and dread the hunt for your child’s “things” at the end of the day. I welcome the occasional book or item to share, just ask first. Most licensed providers belong to the USDA food program and bringing donuts daily or even weekly doesn’t fit the program. Also, never bring a snack for your child and expect the provider to let them eat it in front of the group, that’s just rude. If you want to be generous, a gallon of milk or a nutritious snack for all will be welcomed.

Ask your childcare provider when is a good time to contact her to talk. Professional providers won’t want to talk about your child in front of them. Nap is good for me, but not everyone wants the phone ringing during rest.

My schedule is sacred. It makes kids feel secure when they know what’s going to happen next. Try not to mess with that. Don’t tell the provider, “well, I don’t want my child to nap.” State regulations say a rest time is a must. If you don’t want to go with the providers schedule, find another childcare option.

Do make unannounced visits. It gives you a true picture of your child’s day. If anybody tries to stall you, it’s a big red flag. I would love to have a parent find us making cookies or doing the hokey pokey. Even to catch me singing a goofy song or changing a diaper. All these things are part of your child’s day, try to occasionally share that.

Remember that your provider has a life outside of work. It’s hard on us when you brag about the day off you are having as you drop your child off for a ten hour day. Give us a break now and then. We all need to work but we love your kids too and it makes us happy to see parents wanting to spend time with them. Believe me, in my experience, the opposite is more often true. It also is really nice to have a snow day with our own kids once in a while, it refreshes us for the days to come, and weekends are often busy for all.

Keep your child home if they are running a fever, have vomited, or had diarrhea in the last twenty-four hours. The price of having a child is to be with them when they are ill. No, we can’t keep Johnny inside today because he’s under the weather. If he can’t participate fully, he should not be at childcare. Nothing makes me angrier than to have a child say, “Mommy gave me medicine today,” when the parent has not admitted that. Basically, it’s saying that the health of the group and I are not important to you.

Know that family childcare providers have no option but to schedule doctor appointments during the day and be gracious about it. You want her to be healthy too!

Tell the provider about things that happen at home that may affect your child’s day. If they got up at 5:00 a.m. or Grandma moved in, the provider needs to know so she can adjust her expectations and help your child cope. Change is hard for us all.

You have to pay and pay on time. I know child care is expensive but I only make ends meet. I feed seven of us most days for lunch. There are no exotic vacations for us. Call your local childcare resource and referral agency to see if you are eligible for help paying for childcare. I recently had a parent short me $50 and had to wait to pay mortgage because of it. If you can’t afford to pay your provider, maybe you can’t afford to work outside the home.

If you have a problem with your child or with your provider, you must talk to your provider about it. We can’t read your mind any more than you can read ours. Don’t have your child say, “Mommy said that you give me too much cookies,” we never know what their reality is.

Pick up your child on time. Closing at 5:00 means that you are gone at 5:00, not just pulling up. Your child and I have a long day together and it’s work for us both. You wouldn’t ask the grocery store to stay open late for you, don’t ask the provider and your child to do so either.

Lastly, I must talk about ending childcare. Sometimes there is not a good fit between child and provider. Sometimes it’s not a good fit between parent and provider. Sometimes the little darlings grow up and out of the program. It’s difficult for all, whatever the situation. Be conscious that your provider has developed a meaningful relationship with your child. I have had children for four years or more and I have mourned their loss as they move along. I wonder how their lives turn out and I’m proud when I see their names on the honor roll. I consider your child, “one of mine” for the time being and am a Mama bear about them sometimes. I’ve even had second generation kids and that’s a very cool thing.

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