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The 411: Youth

What parents need to know when looking for child care

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August 8, 2012 | 1,213 views | Post a comment

AUSTIN -- As the school year approaches and summer camps wrap up, many parents will start looking for other child-care arrangements. Selecting the right day care can be one of the more stressful decisions a parent will make. To help calm their nerves, Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages parents to do the necessary research when looking for the right day care.

In 2011, BBB received more than 1,100 complaints nationwide against child-care centers. Complaints to BBB allege a variety of issues, including problems with payment schedules and centers failing to provide appropriate educational opportunities. More serious complaints allege centers failed to properly notify parents of a medical emergency.

When looking for a child- care facility, parents should first determine what kind of facility they need: full- or part-time, in-home or facility-based. Consider the location in relation to home and work, traffic flow, the hours, cost, and educational opportunities for the children.

BBB also advises parents to:

•Turn to an organization you can trust. Research any child-care facility you are considering and look up its BBB Business Review at You can also turn to organizations such as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or the American Academy of Pediatrics for information about child-care centers and licensing requirements.

•Visit each facility. Find out how the staff is selected and what their credentials are. What are the staff-to-child ratios? How are children grouped, such as by age or stage of development? Also, don’t be afraid to ask if you can walk through the facility. Check the bathrooms, play centers, kitchens, playgrounds, etc. for cleanliness or any safety hazards.

•Ask for references. Ask other parents whose children are enrolled in the program to discuss their experiences. Or consider visiting the facility in the evening when parents will be picking up their children to gather as much information on the day care as possible.

•Take your child to the center for a visit. This will give you the opportunity to observe how your child behaves in the environment and around the teachers.

•Request the payment schedule in writing. Make sure the monthly cost is included as well as when payments are due. Check to see if there is an additional fee incurred when a payment is late or missed.

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