Getting Started: Childcare 101

Yeah BABY! Congratulations! If you’re reading this you likely are looking for childcare for the first time.

Baby means cuddles, and kisses, and smells (some sweet, some not), and parent leave, and ermagherd…… CHILDCARE. Who are we going to leave the world’s most amazing sweetest baby with? We get it. In case you — like us — are finding yourself totally overwhelmed and confused about where to start and what everything means (pre-school is different than preK?! Yep.), we got you covered.

There are a few things you might consider when starting your search for childcare including:

  1. Health & Safety: Your #1 priority.
    • Safety reports detailing facilities, caretakers and more are required by law and can be viewed here. Also, get references from other parents and trust your gut.
    • Vaccination rates are also a common question.
  2. Hours needed:
    • “Full time” usually* means during typical business hours (8 a.m.-6 p.m.) some full-time programs offer extended early drop off and late pick up.
    • *BEWARE: sometimes “full time” programs end with the school day around 2-3 p.m.
    • “Part-time” can mean a variety of things: half days, just a few days a week or anything in-between.
    • “Drop-in” or “back-up” care typically means you don’t have to have a formal arrangement with these centers. Sometimes you can literally walk-in to see if they can provide childcare for a few hours. Other times, you may need an appointment. We always recommend you and your child become familiar with these facilities to ensure everyone is most at ease.
  3. Location: You might consider a place close to your work, to your home, to your pediatrician, near grandparents, or anywhere in between. Unless there are special circumstances, most parents look for daycare along their commute.
  4. Types of care: Care ranges from informal or formal family arrangements, babysitters, nannies, nanny-shares, registered or licensed in-home care centers, Mother’s Day Out programs (MDO’s), daycare centers, preschools, pre-K, after-school programs, activities and camps. Click here for info about each of these different options.
  5. Approach & Curriculum: Like every family, daycare centers are also unique. Some approaches are based on values or more stringent accreditations and curriculum. Common terms that describe approaches or curriculum include “play-based”, “nature-based”, “faith-based”, those with language immersion, “Montessori”, “Waldorf”, “Reggio Emilia”, or any combination of the above! Learn more about different approaches and curriculums here.
  6. Price: An obvious consideration for most parents. Prices vary significantly by the factors listed above (hours, approach, ratio, etc.) In addition to tuition, beware of hidden fees. JuiceBox Hero is working on a calculator to help compare costs of your favorite centers. Stay tuned…

If this all seems like a lot to take it, that’s because it is (it’s not you!). We know there’s a lot you’re considering when choosing a childcare partner. And, before now, there haven’t been tools to help us navigate what for many of us is our most important search. Do not worry! We are working every day to take as much of the guesswork out of the childcare search as possible. We continue to work on new tools, features which clarify and streamline the process. Together, we’ll help you take it one step at a time.

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