The Queen City is known for its amenities. It has affordable housing, luxurious night life, eclectic restaurants and a deep-rooted sense of culture. Luckily, living in the city also provides an array of options for any given lifestyle, especially for families. For parents who work full time or part time, there are a variety of choices for all budgets and lifestyles.Child care options can be broken down into two categories – private care and public day cares. In-home private care can be more expensive, but for some, it’s worth the extra cost. Most nannies charge anywhere from $15 to $30 per hour, and if a family plans on having one full time, it can add up. Because Charlotte is a metropolis, many national agencies have listings for the area.Sites like sitter.com and care.com have hundreds of nannies listed in their registry; the only major problem is navigating through them. Parents are required to pay a one-time registration fee, which costs between $15 and $25, to view the nanny profiles. Pouring over profiles can be an exhausting process when looking at 700 or more, but putting in the extra time also can mean finding the perfect nanny. There are private nanny agencies in Charlotte that don’t list names on their website, but instead conduct an interview with the parents and help them choose. This can be more expensive, as the agency is playing a large role in choosing a child care provider, but agencies are also more selective about the nannies they bring into their company. Agencies like A Perfect Nanny and Purple Nanny are based in Charlotte and can meet with families face-to-face, versus the online exchange of bigger child care websites. Knowing the agency has handpicked its nannies gives many parents comfort when making a selection.Public day cares are often a more affordable option for families. There are a large number of day cares in Charlotte, ranging from private facilities with waiting lists to church development centers. Private facilities are rated by the North Carolina Division of Child Development, five stars being the highest. The NCDCD has a website – http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us – where parents can do a comprehensive search for day cares.Religiously affiliated daycares are sometimes the least expensive route and can provide a warm, safe environment. Teachings usually will include a religious aspect, so parents should be comfortable with that before enrolling their child. Although the education will be limited, children are taught about shapes, numbers, colors, nature and science, and art. They also provide recreational activities and meal times. Private day cares are very popular among Charlotte parents and often have waiting lists. In fact, some places – such as the Goddard School – are in such high demand that parents will put their names on the list even before they get pregnant.Private day cares usually are expensive, costing in the thousands, but have program standards such as a Spanish-language education, computer education, facilities that are locked with a pass code entry only, and a video surveillance system so parents can monitor their children online. When looking at day cares, parents should keep a few things in mind. Making an unannounced visit and requesting a tour will give them an honest view of the facility and its staff. If parents visit when others are dropping off or picking up their children, they can chat with those who already have their kids enrolled.Also, make sure the license is clearly displayed and that their standards on health, safety and nutritional meals are high.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
Choosing your day care provider
Helpful resource Counselors at Child Care Resources Inc. give parents personal support as they search for a child care facility, including a list of referrals to programs based on specific criteria. The child care search is free and centers do not pay to be listed. Financial assistance also is available, for those who cannot afford the cost of child care. 704-348-2181 or www.childcareresourcesinc.org.