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Day Care Centers and Preschools

Referrals from Friends, Family, and Coworkers
Of course, no referral agency can take the place of a recommendation from someone you trust. Talk to friends, relatives, or people you know from church or work and ask them about their search for childcare. They will give you much more than a name or address. If you know a family currently using the same type of childcare arrangement that you are considering, talk to them about their experiences. For example, if it is family day care, ask if they would recommend the provider. See if there is any­thing they would change about this provider or arrangement. It may even turn out that their childcare provider would suit your family's needs, in which case, you may have to look no further. Even if that caregiver would not work for you, your friends might be able to talk to the provider about other caregivers who might be suitable for your family. Repeat this process with anyone else you can think of who might be able to connect you with the right childcare setting. This type of networking is a great way to find childcare leads.

Another source of referrals, especially if you work for an employer of a large number of people, is your company's human resources personnel. HR departments exist in part to provide employees with solutions to problems that keep them from realizing their full potential with the company. While they may or may not have a formal day care referral pro­gram, chances are they will at least be able to give you useful suggestions about finding qualified caregivers in the area.

Costs of Day Care Centers
The expense of day care centers varies according to geographic region, services provided to children, and ratio of staff to children. It is reason­able to expect full-time care to cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per month in a center. Costs are more likely to be less in a small town than in a large urban area. Generally, centers charge more for infants than they do for toddlers, and more for toddlers than for school-age children.

The following are some examples of monthly costs found in a random sampling of day care facilities.

Oklahoma (rural area) $420/month for infants;
$300/month for preschoolers
New England (small urban area) $780/month for infants;
$620/month for preschoolers
Northwest (urban area) $1030/month for infants;
$790/month for preschoolers

The sample expenses listed are only an illustration of what you might find where you live. Keep in mind that for an exclusive childcare facility, with a very low ratio of children to staff, the sky may be the limit when it comes to tuition. On the other hand, a church-based day care program for children of parishioners, for example, may cost much less than the norm.

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Copyright © 2005 by Linda H. Connell. Excerpted from The Childcare Answer Book with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.

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