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Quality Childcare Isn't Child's Play

Leaving their child in someone else's care is one of the toughest things a parent has to do. And every parent eventually has to, whether it's an occasional babysitter or full time caregiver while they're at work. As a childcare provider, you can make the transition easier on both parent and child by being prepared, and offering support and communication during the initial, most difficult days.
Private Home vs. Professional Facility
When it comes time to consider looking for the best hands to care for their child, parents have a lot of choices, from a preschool environment with professional staff and dozens of other children, to a private home with a single caregiver and just a few children. Whether you provide childcare as part of a large team, or work as an individual, there are certain certifications you are required to meet. 
Both Child Care Centers and childcare in a private home are subject to federal and state mandated criteria. Whichever setting you work in, you'll be able to provide even better care by considering not only these criteria, but other factors not required by the law, that may be of considerable importance to a parent.
Most parents will ask many questions as they look for the right place for their child. Answer every one with courtesy and professionalism - even if a question seems silly to you, remember how important this decision is to the parent, who needs reassurance that you are the right fit for their little one. Offer parents a scheduled tour of all the areas of your center or your home. Allow them to see you interact with the children in your care, as well as the child who may be attending. Give parents the details they need to make an informed decision. Be up front about policies on rules, discipline and fees - issues such as additional charges for early drop-off or late pick-up, and how you handle behavior problems, should all be discussed honestly.   
Parents Believe What They See
Parents will observe you, the childcare provider, as well as the environment. Are you patient? Interactive with the children? How do the other children seem to respond to you? How do you react to their questions? You will be the person or people they rely on to tell you about their child's day - remember that for most parents, no detail about their child is insignificant. Make sure they are comfortable communicating with you, and you with them.
Comparison Shopping
Not every parent has the same priorities. Some might be more concerned about discipline, others about educational activities. If you're not quite sure your location fits the needs of some parents or their children, or the parents aren't sure, you might suggest that they visit other facilities or providers before making a choice. Your recommendations as a professional provider, addressing their concerns and individual needs, will say a lot about you and your business.

By Rita Henry
Get Childcare Jobs, Contributing Editor

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