Oklahoma State University
Patricia S. Tweedie
Child Care Aware Project Assistant
Oklahoma State University
Family child care is an arrangement in the home of another family. This is often not a relative. Many parents prefer family child care. It is more like their home. Parents can choose a family child care home that shares their family values and spiritual practices. The provider may speak the language the child hears at home. A family child care home may be able to take care of a mildly ill child. Parents who need child care early or late in the day or on weekends use family child care. Parents with transportation problems like child care in their neighborhoods.
A variety of ages may be present in a home. In Oklahoma, a licensed home may have five to seven children, depending upon their ages. A home may serve infants through school age children. Family child care is most popular for children under three.
A licensed family child care home ensures minimum
standards for the care and protection of children. A licensing
agent evaluates such areas as health and safety, adult-child ratio,
caregiver training, equipment, nutrition, and behavior and guidance.
Only licensed family child care homes can participate in the Child
and Adult Food Program. Only licensed homes can receive payments
from the Department of Human Services. Look for the license when
you visit each home.
An accredited family child care has met additional standards established by the National Association for Family Child Care. The family home providers are proud of this professional recognition.
All licensed family child care providers must have training in child care every year. Some have a Child Development Associate credential. This means they have training in family child care and resources. They must pass a written exam and an oral interview. An advisor observes and corrects their work with children and families. Some providers will have associate degrees in child development or early childhood education from two year colleges. Provider training in child care is an important sign of quality.
Several agencies help inform parents about quality child care
and help locate licensed homes in their area.
Oklahoma Child Care Aware. Oklahoma parents can call 1-800-799-1699 to receive information on how to choose quality care. They can learn how to contact their local Resource and Referral Agency, Oklahoma State University Extension Center, and Department of Human Services licensing representative.
Resource and Referral Agencies. These serve many Oklahoma counties. They have lists of licensed family child care homes. They can match your needs to available child care. Call Oklahoma Child Care Aware at 1-800-799-1699 to find out about resource and referral agencies serving certain areas of Oklahoma. Call National Child Care Aware at 1-800-424-2246 for information on local resource and referral agencies nationwide.
Department of Human Services. Ask for a list of licensed homes. Visit the office to read the records of each child care home you consider. Their publication "Quality Child Care: A Handbook for Parents" helps parents in evaluating a home. Another helpful information sheet is "Know Your Family Day Care Mother."
County OSU Cooperative Extension Center. The county home economist provides research based information about child care to parents and caregivers. The home economist presents talks on child development and child care issues. She will refer parents to other helpful resources. She can help organize local efforts to improve the quality of child care.
National Association for Family Child Care. Parents can call 1-615-834-7872, to receive a list of accredited family child care homes in Oklahoma.
Family child care provides the same kinds of experiences a
child would have at home. Quality family child care offers your
child a chance to work at daily household chores. Your child may
be with younger and older children. Family child care makes use
of local parks, libraries, and special events. The small group
and home setting allow children to be alone or with others.
The provider continues the parent's role of caregiver, nurturer, comforter, and first teacher. The provider is not just a baby sitter. A sitter comes into your home for a few hours. You tell her what you want for your child. A family child care provider welcomes you and your child into her home. She decides about meals, schedules, and safety. She organizes the children's activities. She may ask for your ideas. She will appreciate your family values and child rearing practices. She is a professional and you can rely on her judgment. Working together as a team, you provide the best for your child. The provider is not a substitute for you. You are the most important person in your child's life. The provider respects that fact.
Call several licensed homes to ask some basic questions . Call in the evening when providers have more time to talk. These questions will help you develop a short list of a few homes you want to visit.
1. Are you accredited through the National Association of Family
2. Do you have space for my age child?
3. What are the ages of the other children in your home?
4. What are three references you can give me?
5. What are your fees, hours, holidays, and vacations?
6. How many years of experience do you have?
7. What training have you had?
8. Do you plan to continue home care for at least a year?
1. What is your typical daily routine?
2. What do you try to accomplish with the children?
3. How do you handle toilet accidents?
4. What happens when a child hits, bites, or uses bad language?
5. What if a child refuses to eat or doesn't nap anymore?
6. How do you feel about spending ten hours a day with young children?
You will want to select a home where your child can learn to
develop good social skills. You will want him to develop a healthy
attitude toward himself and others by learning to:
trust others and feel safe;
express feelings and feel understood;
get along with others;
feel independent, successful, and capable;
There is no substitute for a visit to the home where your child will be spending most of his waking hours during the day.
Do not hesitate to look for and check cleanliness and safety.
Many parents feel uneasy inspecting a private home. Licensed providers
experience unannounced visits by licensing representatives at
least three times a year. Providers respect parents who show they
care. Observe if cleaning agents, medications, and other harmful
objects are visible and in reach of children. Look under sinks
and in medicine cabinets. Check electrical outlets for safety
covers. Check the safety of electrical cords and their placement.
Notice if diapering and toilet areas are clean and fresh smelling. See if adults and children wash their hands after toileting and before handling food. Be sure the toys are right for your child's age, interests, and abilities. You will want to see toys that are clean and unbroken. Young children need small servings of nutritious meals and snacks. Watch for an enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere while the children eat. Check the weekly menus on display for parents. Walk through the outdoor area. Check for fencing. Look for safe equipment your child would enjoy outdoors.
Look for the following signs of appropriate practices:
After looking over several homes, base your choice on what
is best for your child. Good communication with the provider is
essential for your comfort level and your child's welfare. You
will want to choose someone who genuinely likes you and your child.
Be sure you and the provider can speak freely.
As you make your decision, look at the provider's answers to your questions. Think about what is most important to you and your child. Trust your feelings about the home and the provider. You may not find a perfect family child care home. Be sure you find one you genuinely like. Maintain a good relationship with the provider. They have opened their home to children during business hours. At other times, they need their rest and privacy. Respect her and her family.
Respect the business aspect of home child care. You may sign a contract with the provider. The contract lists each of your responsibilities. Be sure to:
You will have a daily opportunity to talk about your child's
adjustment and activities. If things are going well, tell her.
We all like thanks for a job well done. Offer help, suggestions,
and materials when appropriate. If a problem or concern arises,
make an appointment to discuss it. It is hard to talk at pickup
time. Children are weary and hungry. Other parents need the provider's
attention too. Perhaps an evening phone call will give you the
privacy and time to solve the problem.
Visit with your child about his day's activities on the way home, as you fix dinner, and other routine times during the evening. Let him know you think about him during the day. Have a bedtime routine of reading a story and talking about the day's happenings. Make plans for the next day. This routine gives your child a sense of security. Your child needs your attention and affection.
Help your child prepare for a change when it comes time to leave the provider. She can do this by making a card for her provider or taking pictures of friends. If possible, bring your child back for a visit. She has become an important part of the provider's work. Your child and her provider will miss each other and need time to adjust to their new arrangements.
It takes much thinking, listening, and watching to become a
wise consumer of child care. Take some time to think about what
is important to you. We hope our information will add wisdom to
your search for child care. Some of your thinking may change.
Here are five important things to remember about quality child care. All are important. Try to rank their importance to you before and after reading this information. Put 1 beside the item of greatest importance to you. Put 2 beside the second most important item. Continue ranking. Place 5 beside the item, still an important aspect of child care, but least important of these five for your family.
There are chances for family involvement. (before) ______ (after) _____
The location, cost and hours are convenient. ______ _____
The family child care home has a license. ______ _____
It is easy to get along with the provider. ______ _____
The provider has training in child care. ______ _____
Atkinson, A. M. (1994). Rural and urban use of child care.
Family Relations, 43, 16-22.
Bredekamp, S. (Ed.). (1989). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age eight. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Kontos, S. (1992). Family day care: Out of the shadows and into the limelight. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Kontos, S., Howes, C., Shinn, M., & Galinsky, E. (1994). Quality in family child care and relative care. New York: Teachers' College Press.
Manfredi-Petitt, L. A. (1993) Child care: It's more than the sum of its tasks. Young Children, 49, 40-42.
National Center for Children in Poverty (1994). Local Community
programs help expand and improve family day care. News and Issues, 4(1),1-2.
Isadora, R. (1990). Friends. New York: Greenwillow.
Rogers, F. (1985). Going To Day Care. New York: Putnams' Sons.
Yates, M. (1988). Mommy's Coming Back. Singapore: Abdington Press.
FORMAT AVAILABLE: :: Series - In Print -
DOCUMENT REVIEW: Level 2 - Oklahoma State University Extension
DOCUMENT SIZE:: 17K or 6 pages
ENTRY DATE:: December 1996
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