Your Pregnancy After 35 : Back to Work (part 1) - Childcare Decisions

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Childcare Decisions

Arranging childcare for your new baby can be one of the most important tasks you face before returning to work. The best way to choose the right setting and best care provider is to know your options.

You do have choices. Any of a number of situations could be right for you; examine your needs and those of your child before you decide which to pursue. Let’s examine some of the most common childcare arrangements.

In-Home Care

In-home care is the easiest option for you and your baby. You don’t have to get baby ready before you leave in the morning or take her out in bad weather. You save commuting time in the morning and evening.

Care in your home is an excellent choice for a baby or small child because the environment is familiar. It provides your child with a great deal of attention. A relative or nonrelative may provide this care. A potential drawback to in-house care during the toddler years may be that the child won’t have the chance to play with others her age.

When the caregiver is a relative, such as a grandparent or an aunt, you may find the situation challenging. Can you maintain your relationship with the relative caregiver while asking or telling him or her to do things the way you want them done?

If the caregiver is not a relative, the arrangement may be expensive. In addition, you are bringing someone you do not know into your home to tend your child. Ask for references, and check them thoroughly. Don’t rush into an arrangement with a caregiver you haven’t checked out thoroughly or you aren’t completely confident about.

Care in a Caregiver’s Home

Many parents take their children to someone else’s home for care. Often these homes offer small group sizes and scheduling flexibility (for example, you may be allowed to leave your child a little longer occasionally). They offer a home-like atmosphere, and your child may receive lots of attention.

Home care is not regulated in every state, so check each situation carefully. Contact your state’s Department of Social Services, and ask about its requirements. Sometimes local agencies oversee caregivers. Care providers must abide by certain standards or rules, such as the maximum number of children (including their own) allowed in the home. They may also have to obtain certification in first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Your Responsibilities to Your Caregiver

Just as your caregiver has certain responsibilities to you, you have responsibilities to your caregiver. Be on time when you drop off your child or pick her up. Call if you’re going to be late, even if the care is in your own home. Pay the caregiver on time. Provide diapers, formula or expressed breast milk, extra clothes and personal items for baby when they are needed.

Taxes

You must pay federal-withholding, state and local taxes for your care provider, including Social Security and Medicare taxes. If the person works in your home, you may also need to pay workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance taxes. These taxes must be paid on a rigid schedule. Failure to pay on time can put you in a serious legal and financial predicament. Contact the Internal Revenue Service and your state Department of Economic Security for further information.

Childcare Centers

A childcare center is a larger setting in which children receive care. Centers vary widely in the facilities and activities they provide, the amount of attention they give each child, group sizes and childcare philosophy.

Ask about the training required for each childcare provider or teacher. Some facilities expect more from a care provider than others.

You may find some childcare centers do not accept infants. Often centers focus on older children because infants take more time and attention. If the center accepts infants, the ratio of caregivers to children should be about one adult to every three or four children (up to age 2). One adult for every four to six 2-year-olds and one adult for every seven to eight 3-year-olds is considered acceptable.

Don’t be fooled by facilities; even the cleanest, brightest place is useless without the right kind of care provider. Visit it by appointment, then stop by unannounced a few times. Meet the person in charge and the people who will care for your child. Ask for references of parents whose children are cared for there. Talk to these parents before you make a final decision.

 
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