Day Care 101: What is Day Care? Day care has come a long way since the temporary babysitting jobs of the 60's and 70's that paid fifty cents an hour for one child, maybe a quarter more an hour for two children. Neighboring teens made good babysitter candidates, as did children of friends or older family members. All that was required of the babysitter was to fix a dinner plate for the child, clean up afterwards and play with the child before tucking them into bed. Most of the sitting was done on Friday or Saturday nights allowing the parents to enjoy a night out. Today, day care means a whole lot more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last 10 years almost 65 percent of women with children six years old or younger were working outside the home. Especially in a single parent household, it is essential to have access to day care, if other alternatives such as relatives or grandparents, are not available. In a family where both the husband and wife work full time jobs, ongoing day care is sometimes the only choice. There are several options available today. More corporate employers are adding on-site day care facilities, in-home providers are available, and full or part time day care centers are located in nearly every city large or small. Some centers only accept children ages birth to toddler, while others welcome children of any age. There is a growing trend toward "drop-in" child care, with facilities offering affordable short-term, high-quality care. Schools, gyms, rec centers and even churches are jumping on the child care bandwagon by offering such events as Parent Nights Out. Some communities are organizing child care co-ops. Nannies, also known as a child's nurse are also an alternative, however, a more costly one as it involves full-time in-home care by a person who may or may not reside on the property. Nannies can be male or female; however mannys are becoming popular. Families can choose the care that fits their changing needs a nanny for the newborn, drop-in care for the toddler, and an environment rich day care for preschoolers. Summer needs may differ from those during the school year and parents may switch programs to accommodate those needs. Day care centers that are evolving into highly structured learning centers now offer a wider range of activities. Still available are simple arts and crafts projects, but the addition of early learning programs has been attributed to research showing a response to academics at an earlier age. Parents want their children to start developing skills that previously were not taught until much later. Add-on extracurricular activities such as gymnastics, ballet and martial arts are offered for an additional fee. The instructor comes to the center on a weekly basis providing on-site instruction, and this is especially beneficial to those parents who are short on time and cannot accommodate weekly lessons. Keeping parents up-to-date on the schedules and events was done by a simple newsletter; today many providers have websites which even include the weekly menus. You can also request an update on your child's conduct, which is in turn emailed to you. Communication between the provider and the parent is important, but early morning goodbyes can be difficult for younger children and keeping it short and sweet encourages a better day for both child and provider. What To Look For When Choosing A Daycare Choosing a daycare for your child can be a difficult decision; the last thing you want to do is place them in a facility that is going to ultimately be detrimental to their development and happiness. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to distinguish a "good" facility from a bad one. Before making a final verdict, there are a few key pieces of info you should know. An important starting point when investigating a facility, especially an institution that cares for a large number of children, is to find out if it is licensed. If so, you know the key providers (often the directors) have completed a minimum amount of training in early childhood development, education and/or care, often in a secondary institution. It is good to discover what training and experience the teachers and aides are required to possess before being hired, as these are the people who will often have the most hands on contact with the children on a daily basis. These individuals should also be trained in first aid and CPR, and familiar with emergency procedures should a situation arise. The facility should have set policies in place for issues pertaining to the children themselves, and these should meet your expectations as well. A plan for emergency action should a child become injured should be in place, and able to be implemented immediately. Along with policies pertaining to emergencies, they should have a standard method of discipline for the children, as well as a procedure to be followed when such disciplinary actions do not yield the desired results. These should mesh well with your disciplinary actions at home to prevent confusion for the child. Most daycares, whether institutional or in-home, will have a set daily schedule. It's good to discover that schedule, and ensure that your child will be able to follow it. Children should be allowed plenty of play time, as well as some structured activities to prevent the advent of boredom during the day. Naptime can often become a point of contention in a daycare situation; a good facility will have both a naptime for the children who continue to take naps and a "quiet time" for children who don't. Potty training should also be addressed with any potential caregiver, particularly if your child is not yet out of diapers. Some preschool programs may require the children to be toilet trained prior to enrolling them or will charge an extra fee for having to change diapers. It is very important if your child is not yet potty trained to ensure that whatever facility you choose is willing and able to assist in teaching your child to use the bathroom. The facility itself should be clean and childproof, with items such as safety latches on doors, gates on stairs and electrical outlet covers. In a private home, areas with fireplaces or wood stoves should be unavailable to children. There should be plenty of room for children to spread out and play, and areas that allow for physical activity both in and out of doors. Age appropriate toys should be available, as well as items such as cribs and highchairs for younger children. All such equipment should meet current safety standards, and a good provider should have an inventory of said equipment and toys and be on a constant look-out for safety recalls. The most important thing to remember is any good facility will encourage you to come in, meet the staff and observe classroom interaction prior to enrollment. Follow your instincts on such visits; remember, no one knows your child like you do! Why Is Day Care Licensure Important? Day care licensure is a means by which the government, on a city, county, state and national level, may regulate the standards of care provided by a facility by establishing set guidelines which must be adhered to. Licensure requirements vary from state to state, and may be obtained from an Office of Child Care Licensing. These requirements apply to all facilities caring for more than seven children for a period of time longer than three hours, and guidelines apply to all areas of child care. While having completed licensure requirements does not guarantee that a facility is the right one for an individual child, it does guarantee that at the very least a child's minimum needs are being met. The guidelines established in the requirements for obtaining a license outline cover all aspects of child care. Directors and teachers are required to have completed a specified amount of secondary education in child development or education, giving them a deeper understanding of the child psyche and a better ability to troubleshoot when problems arise. Teacher's aides are required to be completing coursework in these same fields. All staff are required to have their fingerprints on file, and the director should keep a current, up-to-date file on each employee, complete with a background check. A reasonable staff to child ratio is outlined, with specifics given for personal attention for infants and toddlers. Directions for feeding, napping, diaper changes and playtime are outlined, as well as for age appropriate equipment and supplies. All educators are required to be familiar with each child's file, and able to meet any special needs a child may possess, whether medical or otherwise. Guidelines are given for children in wheelchairs, or with other disabilities. A minimum level of care is outlined, with directions given for feeding, activities, and assistance. Prior to licensure, a facility must be inspected and found to meet specified fire and safety requirements, and fire drills must be done once a month to ensure that all children and staff are familiar with procedures in the event of an emergency. A staff member trained in CPR and first aid should be present on the grounds any time children are present, and must accompany all groups on trips off the grounds. Proper equipment, such as high chairs and cribs, must be provided for infants and conform to current safety standards. Procedures are given and must be followed for any cases of suspected neglect and abuse. Licensed facilities are required to renew their license at the end of as set period of time, as well as submit to regular inspections. Failure to meet any licensure guidelines may result in a facility being fined and/or having its license revoked or suspended. The consequences of poor care in daycare centers are widely documented. Children suffering from abuse at the hands of poorly trained staff members. An excessive number of students per staff member resulting in a lack of personal attention, which may lead to discipline problems and unreasonable demands for attention later in life, as well as a higher incidence of injury from children being poorly supervised. Licensure guidelines are intended to prevent these problems from arising, thereby ensuring that children in daycare facilities have a healthy, safe environment in which to grow and learn. A list of licensed day care facilities may be obtained from any social services department. Why Child Care is Necessary Latchkey kids are a thing of the past and for good reason. Child care is a necessary part of parenting, and there are many services available today to assist with this tough challenge. Societies now encourage children to learn more, become responsible at an earlier age, and to put it simply, grow up faster. Parents are no longer encouraged to allow a child of seven or eight to take him or herself home after school and stay alone until Mom or Dad get home from work. Sexual predators are a very real threat; a child can be followed home from school and victimized. But if there is child care, this will be avoided. Today, child care abounds. There is full-time, part-time, drop-in and day care centers. Child care doesn't have to mean you're away from your child all day from morning to night, missing the milestones we all enjoy. Depending on your child care needs, and your work situation, sometimes child care can be very minimal. Maybe several hours a week will be all you need from an in-home child care provider, with a backup of drop-in child care for those emergency or unplanned occasions; a drop-in child care provider can be a lifesaver. You can still interact with your child while he is at child care. Offering to volunteer, especially when your child is in attendance, will make him feel more comfortable when you are not there. Making sure you attend when it is your child's birthday is an important goal to strive for. Most child care providers and day care centers make a party on a child's birthday, as do kindergartens and grammar schools. You can also surprise your child and stop by during your lunch break and offer to eat lunch with him, read a book or just play with him. If your child care provider has a website or a newsletter that is sent home, you can plan ahead to attend one of the events they have scheduled, such as a field trip to a museum or a park. Just spending some time with your child is important and meaningful while he is spending his day in child care. Child care can also mean a family member watching your child. There are still some vital guidelines, however, to follow if this is your child care situation. If the relative is an older person, you certainly want to make sure that they are capable of handling any type of emergency that might arise. Also, if the relative has to take any medication while he is providing child care to your child, the medications should be unavailable to the child. No matter what age a child is, it is strenuous activity at the least. Falling back on television as an activity is frowned upon; however, some children's television shows are all about learning and should be allowed. This also gives the caregiver time to catch their breath! If your relative is of the younger generation, they may not need to take time out to catch a breath, but they certainly need to be coached in what you are requiring of them. Making a list would be helpful, having several sessions alone with the child while Mom runs an errand will give you and your child some time to see how the caregiver and your child get along. Through trial and hopefully not very much error, child care can be a cakewalk. What Toys Are Necessary For Day Care? Any day care is going to need to have on hand all the necessary equipment. This encompasses cribs, high chairs, booster seats, strollers, car seats and toys. The first five are fairly self explanatory, but what sorts of toys should you buy? The very nature of day care almost guarantees that you will have a children in all age groups, from infants on up, and while some toys easily cross age gaps, a majority will not. Infants through about six months have very little mobility, and therefore will need toys that will stimulate them without frustrating them because of their inability to interact. Soft toys in bright colors that they can put in their mouth are an excellent choice, and if they should happen to make noise all the better. As infants will taste everything in their attempts to identify it, items with sharp corners, loose attachments (such as beads or eyes), or excessive amounts of hair (think stuffed dog) are better suited for older children. Providing colorful pictures for the child to look at while lying down or being changed will delight them, as will a colorful, patterned blanket for tummy time. Many bouncy seats provide a toy bar for the infant to stare at while seated, and allow for interaction as the child grows and learns to use their hands to reach for things. From six months to a year children learn to use their hands to explore objects. Soft toys, books, and teething rings are a good choice. This is also a good age to bring out plastic keys, telephones, bathtub squirting toys (be sure they are dry, clean and free of mildew on the inside), rattles, and any other item the child can hold in their hand easily, so long as they do not possess small parts which may present a choking hazard. Soft balls the child can throw will please them, as they are still learning how to use their hands and are delighted by the cause and effect of seeing a ball fly after they throw it. From one to two years, children are beginning to understand the concept of play. Toys with small parts or sharp edges should still be avoided, but this is the age where the toddler will truly begin to interact with a toy. Anything that makes noise will be enjoyed, whether it be a plastic piano, xylophone, or a bowl and spoon. Blocks they can stack and knock down are popular, although at this age many children have trouble with the concept of blocks that lock together. Plenty of picture books should be available, with sturdy pages (preferably board books) and large, colorful illustrations. From two to four children begin to engage in imaginary play, learning how to play with other children. Toys that allow them to explore their creativity should be available-dolls and doll sized infant gear, large action figures, toy vehicles, play kitchens and food, and blocks that allow them to build buildings and vehicles are now appropriate. Balls, playground equipment (both inside and outside), ride-on toys and other such physical outlets will be necessary as well, as children this age often have a tremendous amount of energy. This is a good time to stock your art supplies as well, keeping crayons, watercolors, fingerpaints, washable markers and coloring books/paint paper on hand at all times. It will astonish you what those budding geniuses will produce given the proper supplies, and this is an excellent way to occupy them on a rainy day. What Is Institutional Day Care? If a child has to enter a child care program at a young age, choosing the correct one can be as important to their future as the correct college. The consequences of a child having a poor early childhood experience are widely documented, with children displaying behavioral problems, increased insecurity and separation anxiety and excessive demands for attention into the grade school years. In light of this, many parents often feel overwhelmed in the face of the sheer number of day care options available. Each child thrives in a different environment; however, with a little research and the occasional trial and error, it is possible to for a parent to discover the best choice for their child. Institutional child care is becoming more and more popular in the United States. Many institutions will begin accepting children as early as six weeks of age, and often continue to offer care up through the school years. Cost wise, this option is usually somewhere in the middle between in-home day care and private care, with prices varying according to age and the number of days a child is expected to be present. Most facilities will charge on a weekly basis, and parents are expected to pay for the full week regardless of the number of days their child is actually present. Children in day care institutions are grouped into classes according to age, with each age group having its own classroom with one or two teachers. Staff to child ratios vary according to institution; however, as most are required to be licensed they should not exceed the guidelines set forth in the state licensing agreement. Care often begins several hours prior to school hours, allowing for children to be dropped off as parents go into work, and continues for several hours after dismissal. They are fed breakfast and lunch, and are given rest time in the afternoons. Age appropriate group activities are scheduled throughout the day, with time allowed for independent play, and holiday activities and field trips are common. All children are taught basic skills, such as self feeding and potty training, and those that are of preschool age are taught to write their names, identify colors, shapes and letters, and count. The advantages of choosing an institution are the chance for a child to acclimate to a classroom environment prior to entering school and reliable care; barring an emergency parents should never find themselves without a caregiver during regular hours of operation. Most teachers and teacher's aides have training in child development and psychology, as well as childhood education, from a secondary school, and are trained to respond to medical emergencies. There are disadvantages as well. Due to the larger class sizes children often do not receive an appropriate amount of individual attention, particularly those children that are less boisterous. This is the stepping stone to many of the behavioral problems touted as these children learn to emulate the less desirable actions of their peers, whom they see the teachers working with time and again. Any good child care facility will allow parents to come in and observe prior to placing their child, and will often allow parents to accompany the child for the first few days. This will give the parents a chance to get a feel for how their child will acclimate to the environment, and remove them if a situation seems inappropriate. What Extra Training Is Necessary To Become A Licensed Day Care Provider? It is common knowledge that being a good day care provider requires a tremendous amount of patience, love, endurance, tenacity, an easy nature and a genuine love of children. Unfortunately, these traits are not always sufficient preparation for the conflicts and controversies that may arise from being responsible for a diverse group of infants, toddlers and preschoolers on a daily basis. Because of this, state licensing boards require that day care directors and teachers complete a minimum amount of extra training prior to being licensed. All day care providers are required to obtain and maintain a national certification in first aid and safety, as well as pediatric CPR and rescue breathing. This is very important, especially for in-home caregivers who live a great distance from the hospital and may not always be able to be quickly reached by an ambulance. Their ability to react swiftly to emergency situations in this case may decide if the child lives or dies. Training for this certification can be obtained by individuals through the Red Cross. Class schedules are posted on their website. If the Red Cross is not a feasible option, a local hospital or fire department should be able to recommend another route and possibly even share the details of when and where classes will be. Some groups will allow those individuals attempting to obtain training for employment purposes to join in their company certification classes, although the individual will be responsible for their own course fees in such an event. A minimum level of secondary education in child development, psychology or education is often required as well, the exact level of which being dependent on the position an individual holds and their prior programmatic experience. A day care provider should be able to deal with all situations that arise with their students. Unfortunately, students cannot be classified as good or bad and left to their own devices. If a child is having difficulty learning or is displaying less than savory behavior patterns a good day care teacher must then become a detective, using their training in child development, psychology and education to deduce the reason behind the problem and the most effective solution Most colleges and universities will offer both individual classes and degree programs in these subjects, and will offer financial aid to qualified applicants attempting to complete a degree program. Even after a license for a day care has been obtained, a provider's training is not finished. All licensed day care providers must complete an established amount of continuing education credits annually to maintain their licensure. Continuing education credits are required for a professional to keep abreast on current developments and keep their knowledge up to date and in the forefront of their mind. These can be obtained through classes, meetings, activities and seminars. A list of approved continuing education activities can be obtained from employers or through the licensing agency itself. Being a daycare provider is a challenging job, without any of the absolutes that can be found in many other fields. The required training to obtain a license will allow an individual to travel to and remain at the top in their profession. Picking the Right Daycare Provider for You Picking the right daycare doesn't have to be overwhelming if you know what your options are. Whether you are moving into a new city, or having a new baby in the house, you probably knew early on that picking the right daycare was at the top of your list. This is an important chore that should not be put off until last minute. Finding a daycare provider that suits your needs is as important to your well being as well as your child's. If you are just opting to change daycare providers for any reason, being overly careful in making your choice is not overdoing it but simply being smart. There are many ways to find a daycare provider using the newspaper or internet, but once you find one, how will you know you are picking the right daycare When you have narrowed down your choices and gone over the checklist that details all of the important criteria that a good facility has, making sure your choice is a good one, you may then have to get on a waiting list. Picking the right daycare is only a small part of the process, getting on the waiting list and being accepted is a larger part. If your search for a provider is due to a new baby in the home, and you are planning to return to work full or part time, you will definitely need to make arrangements in advance that coincide with your back to work date. In picking the right daycare, inquire if they offer part time as well as full time or if only full time is available. Your needs may change over time and whatever the situation calls for, you have to be able to depend on your care provider to be there when you need them. Once you have made your choice, you will want to make a visit to the facility and see how they operate in person. If possible try to make a surprise visit. Observe how they treat the children, how discipline and cleanliness issues are handled. If you stay around for even half an hour some of these observations are likely to be made by you. If you are going through a move to a new city, that move is going to be upsetting to a child's routine. Once you get settled you will want continuity in your child's routine; checking to see if the daycare has a frequent turnover would be prudent. Children make attachments to their teachers, having a new teacher frequently could be very damaging to a child already trying to settle into his new environment. Keeping a mental list of your specific wants can guide you in your decision making process. Does your child like to play with others, is he active Is your child more of a self starter, does he like to sit alone and look at picture books With so many different types of daycare programs available, and the different types of personalities offering that care, you will surely find one that suits your needs. If you bear this in mind during the process, you will undoubtedly have success in picking the right daycare. How to Turn Your Home Into a Daycare Caring for children in your home can be a wonderful experience, allowing those with a genuine love of children to make a living doing something they enjoy. Turning your home into a daycare, however, can be a tricky process. Several steps need to be taken before you can successfully open your doors to the world. First and foremost, decide how many children you wish to care for and find out whether you need to become licensed or not. Most states do not require licensure for in-home care of small groups of children, but if you wish to have more than three or four it will probably be necessary. This can be done by contacting your area Office of Child Care Licensing. Whether you decide to become licensed or not, it is a good idea to complete a course in pediatric first aid and CPR-this way you will be prepared for emergencies that come along. Then examine your home. Is it childproofed? If you are planning on accommodating small children, and if you're planning on making daycare a full time profession you probably are, your will need to take appropriate measures to ensure that your home is safe. Childproofing supplies are available at many local stores. Outlet covers in the wall, child proof latches on doors and cupboards and appropriate safety gates on stairways are a good place to start (when buying a gate for a stairwell ensure it is the kind that can be anchored to the wall-children may push over a pressure gate). You may also want to consider a safety latch for the toilet-very small children can fall into a toilet and not be able to get themselves out. Next, you want to purchase your supplies. Necessary daycare supplies range from outdoor playground equipment and an assortment of toys to high chairs, booster seats, cribs, extra sippy cups and plastic flatware. If you have completed the licensing process you will have already obtained a list of these items. Ensure that all equipment meets current safety standards, and no toys have been recalled. It also is a good idea to stock up on basic art supplies, such as crayons, watercolors, child safety scissors and coloring books. Don't forget your first aid supplies! You are going to want to have on hand a full first aid kit, with plenty of disinfectant, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, burn spray, calamine lotion, sunblock and lotion (for the eventuality the sunblock does not work). It is often beneficial to have Children's Ibuprofen and Tylenol on hand, but bear in mind this should not be administered without a parent's approval. You can choose to advertise your new business by word of mouth, classified ads, fliers-the possibilities are endless. Be sure to have an interview sheet made up when meeting a new child. This should contain questions on emergency contacts, allergies (food, drug and other), past daycare history, any favorite objects/hobbies and any dislikes, as well as any other information you would like to have on hand. Be sure when meeting the parents that you establish your policies on pick up and drop off times, payment, and what supplies you will provide versus what you would like them to provide It may be a good idea to have these policies printed and signed to avoid disputes down the road. Once these steps have all been completed, sit back, relax, and enjoy the new career you've chosen. How To Prepare Your Child For Daycare The transition from staying home to entering a full time day care can be a difficult one for many children. There are many things parents can do to make this easier, and to ensure a good day care experience. The most important factor for any child is to choose the right daycare provider. If at all possible, it may be easiest to place the child with someone they are already familiar with, either a family member or friend. As this is not always an option, many resources are available for selecting a caregiver. Word of mouth from any friends with children will go a long way towards steering you to a good day care. This way experiences can be relayed, either good or bad, and eccentricities discussed. Bear in mind that a provider who is wonderful for one child may not be for another because of differing personalities; however, if several parents have criticized a source, a genuine problem may be present and that person might be one to steer clear of. If word of mouth does not direct you to a good caregiver, the Department of Social Services can provide you with a list of licensed day care providers in your area. Your pediatrician may also be able to give you a recommendation; many doctors get to know their patients fairly well, particularly with children. If all else fails, a phone book or newspaper classifieds can provide listings for child care professionals. Once you have chosen a provider, take your child to meet them. Most providers will wish to meet with you prior to the child being enrolled. Take your child with you to this meeting if possible. This will give them a chance to look around their new environment and meet the person or people who will be caring for them. If your child has a comfort object and it is permitted, allow them to take that object to daycare. Most children become homesick for the first couple of weeks, and this will give them a piece of home to hold on to. Giving them a picture of you and other immediate family members to look at when they become lonely may help as well, but make that decision based on your child; it may make the situation worse. If at all possible, try to stay for a little while in the mornings to help them settle into an activity. This will make the transition easier. If you can, tell your child exactly what time you will pick them up-and make sure you are there. Like knowing what time your workday will end, daycare will be easier if your child knows exactly what time they will see you again. This gives them a sense of security. The most important thing you can do for your child is to send them off in a positive manner. If you are upset over your separation, they will be to, whereas if you seem confident that all will be well and you will see them at the end of the day they will pick up on that attitude. Remember, it is not uncommon for your child to cry when you leave them. Most children settle in within fifteen minutes of seeing their parents leave. Simply say good-bye and walk out the door-you'll be able to give them hugs and kisses for being so brave when you come back. How Children Benefit From Childcare You've heard all the nasty rumors about child care, but you have to get back to work and you have no choice. But did you know there are benefits to sending your child to daycare If you consider some of these benefits, it will help you come to terms with your own decision whether you have a choice or not. If you can understand some of the ways children benefit from childcare, you will feel you are helping your child grow into a well rounded, happy child instead of punishing the both of you by sticking him in daycare. Babies need interaction with other children. It's never too early to start engaging him in activities with other children, whether they are other babies, toddlers or older children. Learning to interact with other children prepares a child for his first encounter with school. A daycare environment is a perfect place to get a child used to other children as he will have to do when he enters preschool or kindergarten. Daycare is a gentler environment, there are less rules and more flexibility than strict teachers may impose. Children benefit from childcare by learning self-control, how to get along with others, and how to share. They are initiated into the world of friendship. Without daycare, he only knows you; you are his whole world. What a shock to find one day around his 4th birthday he will have to start school and will be away from you at great lengths during the day. Children benefit from childcare by expanding their world to include people other than their parents. If a child has been in daycare there will be less chance of separation anxiety when he enters school. He has become used to you being away from him; he has learned to make new friends and can be content without the undivided attention he normally gets from you. Aside from learning socialization skills, he may also have the opportunity to learn some of the basics such as the alphabet and numbers. This pre-preschool learning environment teaches your child a basic understanding of what will be expected of him once he enters kindergarten. He learns to listen and accept the information that will be thrust upon him in school. Entering school for the first time is challenging, children benefit from childcare by already having exposure to a classroom like environment. Once the child enters school, daycare can help with homework. Some daycare facilities also offer after school extracurricular activities like scout meetings, and on-site gymnastics instruction. Once the child is in school his horizons begin to broaden. Children benefit from childcare but it is really the parents that make the most difference in your child's life. When he gets home from daycare after spending a long day away from you, he will want to tell you about his day. Ask him questions about his friends, his teachers, his subjects. He is capable of interacting with you no matter what his age is, and getting him to vividly describe his day is exciting to a child especially if the parent shows interest. Of course you are interested, aren't you This child, a smaller version of yourself, is taking on the world a day at a time, and the choices and desires he has will be a direct reflection of you. Make the most of that opportunity while you can, children are only children once. Finding a Five Star Daycare Provider Years ago, simply asking a friend who "sat" for them was as easy as picking up the phone. Or you might find an advertisement in the local newspaper. But with daycare centers springing up like daisies, the choices are far and wide. But finding the right day care provider to suit you need not be an insurmountable task. References from friends are still a great way to locate one that has been proven to be reputable. The internet is also a great resource, there are web sites posted by entrepreneurial daycare providers which will have information on their qualifications and licensing, etc. Local newspaper classifieds will have ads run by smaller family type childcare providers, and your local chapter of CCR&R (Child Care Resource and Referral) is a free service that provides counselors you can speak with who will assist you in locating a childcare provider, based on your zip code. After you determine what type of daycare you need, be it in-home, drop-in or full time daycare center supervision, there are several guidelines to follow. A checklist should include the following information, as well as obtaining references and visiting the facility. Does the provider or center have enough supervision? are the children supervised even when they are sleeping? How many caregivers are there at all times? (For babies, there should ideally be a two to one ratio.) Are the providers trained in first aid and rescue breathing? Are the children within a caregiver's sight when they are with another caregiver? Have the caregivers had background checks? Is the director and teachers qualified to run a daycare facility with bachelor's degrees in a child related field? Has the staff worked in child care for at least one year (for teachers) or longer (two years for directors)? Is the licensing up to date? Does the staff show a genuine love for children or is this just a job? Is there a common bathroom available for older children to use to wash their hands, before and after toileting and before meals? Are the diapering areas clean and the diapers disposed of in a proper manner? Are the other children kept up to date on their immunizations and are these records available as proof? Are toxic materials locked away and poison information posted? Are medications kept safely out of reach of children There should be an emergency plan in place if a child gets hurt or lost; is there a first aid kit on the premises? Do they practice fire drills and is there a program in place for disasters such as earthquake and tornado? Lastly, are the playgrounds and play areas kept clean and in good repair? Is the sandbox clean, the playground surrounded by a fence Are the toys age-appropriate This list may seem excessive at first, but a visit to the daycare center or family home can give you a quick overview of the surroundings, and the general questions you would ask would not make you the first parent to inquire of such. A concerned parent does whatever is necessary to ensure the safety and well being of their child, even if it means giving the daycare provider what seems like the third degree.
Effects of Daycare on Children Ever since women entered the workforce, the great daycare debate has raged on. Parents, scholars and politicians have argued the pros and cons of external childcare facilities until families are absolutely certain placing their child in day care results in either an infant prodigy or a teenage delinquent. As with any issue, the truth has been found to be somewhere in between. Day care can be a tremendous opportunity for a young child to learn social skills, expand their vocabulary and learn to function as an individual away from their parents; constant interaction with their peers allows them to develop a respect for the opinions and emotions of others, learn the value of teamwork, and to form friendships that will often carry into their school years. They are also given an opportunity to learn basic academic skills at an earlier age, and adapt to the more rigid structure of a classroom environment prior to entering Kindergarten, easing what is often a difficult transition for children who are kept at home in their preschool years. On the flip side of the coin, not all day care providers are able to give the high quality of attention and education necessary for growth and adjustment. This is often due to an inadequate amount of staff for the number of children a facility cares for. Many times by the time a child reaches preschool age there is only one teacher responsible for up to fifteen students, if not more (licensing guidelines state that there should be no more than fifteen students per teacher at the four and five year old level; however, a fluctuating population of drop-in students may cause this number to be nothing more than a myth). The results of a long term study done by the National Institute of Health showed that those children who spent a great amount of time in a lower quality daycare displayed more instances of aggressive behavior and demands for constant, individual attention, a trend that continued through the sixth grade. This behavior may stem from the need to compete for attention from a very young age, and is displayed in children of large families as well. Those children who are quiet and well behaved are set to the side while the teachers struggle to deal with the children who are not so self sufficient; is it any wonder, then, that this often results in these children learning to emulate the less than savory behavior of their peers, whom they see receiving the individual attention they crave? The key to a positive day care experience is to carefully screen any day care before a child is enrolled. The school should have a low staff to child ratio, with one adult to every two or three children at the infant level, gradually rising as the child increases in age but still sufficient for individual attention. The teachers should display a genuine love for the children, with experience and training in child development and psychology, allowing them to quickly detect a problem with a student before it becomes uncontrollable. Parents should remain in contact with the child's teacher, receiving progress reports and observing classroom behavior on a regular basis. Any instance in which a parent is deliberately left "out of the loop" in their child's education, even at this early stage, is cause for concern, and should be considered an immediate warning sign that all is not as it should be. In this case knowledge is power, and allows a child to quickly be removed from an unsuitable situation before damage is done that is irreversible. Day Care Safety Accidents happen, it's a fact of life, but when it happens to your child it can be devastating. That's why prevention is still the best cure. Being aware of the day care safety precautions at your facility can help set your mind at ease when it comes time to leave your child. Making sure that some of the standards and safety precautions set by the licensing boards are met is basic but there are also additional questions you may want to ask. Daycare facilities have come under much scrutiny; the McMartin preschool trial in the late 1980's put all parents on alert. It also brought to light that closer watch need be kept on our children in these environments. Employee background checks, surveillance cameras (hidden and not hidden) and monitoring devices are now the modus operandi of daycare facilities. These precautions help protect the daycare provider as well as the parent. But some basic day care safety items should still be verified by you, the parent, before leaving your child at any facility. Are all the licenses up to date Have the current employees been checked out with background checks A thorough background check will include any past felony and misdemeanor convictions, including DUI, and also will check the state's Sex Offender Registry. Make sure this has been done on all employees who come in contact with your child. Is there a sign in sheet or another form of verification for picking up and dropping off your child Upon registering your child you would have been given a sheet to fill out which included a list of who is permitted to take your child from daycare. As an extra precaution, a special code word, that only you and your child knows, should be put into play. When someone other than yourself or a designated individual comes to pick up your child in the case of an emergency, your child would ask them the code word. This can help put your child at ease if you are unable to speak with him. On a more physical level, take a look around the facility. You will want to make sure that all stairs and elevated surfaces are guarded, equipment such as jungle gyms has the falling surface area protected, and windows are protected. Within the main rooms, especially if this is a family in-home provider, check for small spaces where a child can get trapped. Check for tripping hazards, sharp corners on furniture, splinters and sharp or rusty nails, electrical outlets that are not covered. The same safety precautions you take in your own home should be exercised at the facility. The environment in general should be free of debris, small items that can be choking hazards, worn carpets or surfaces needing repair. Safety gates should be used where needed, window blind cords tied up or nonexistent, lists of recalled toys should be consulted and those toys removed. The Consumer Products Safety Commission's national study done in 1998 was conducted statewide in 220 licensed child care facilities. Two thirds of the facilities tested violated at least one safety hazard of the study. In 1997, nearly 31,000 children under the age of four were admitted to U.S.hospital emergency rooms for injuries resulting from accidents at schools and child care environments. By following just a few precautions, every parent can do their part to see that their child never become this type of statistic. Day Care Issues Separation Anxiety Day care issues of facility policy, additional charges and late fees, and visitation rules are important issues but none seem as pertinent as the problem of separation anxiety. Few parents enjoy leaving their child with a stranger for hours at a time, and though there are benefits to child care it is hardly on your mind when faced with a child having a temper tantrum as you are trying to leave the daycare facility to head to work. So how can you ease this often temporary situation The solution lies within yourself to come up with creative and personalized ways to ease your child through one of the most difficult day care issues separation anxiety. Not all children have day care issues such as separation anxiety. Some babies and children enjoy being around other children in a new environment, and take to daycare right away. Those parents are the lucky ones. But if you are experiencing any of the following situations at drop off time, there are changes you can make to get through this time of transition (because it will pass). Don't mistake separation anxiety for misbehaving. Understanding your child's fears is the first step. Your child knows you as the source of comfort in his life and even the smallest of children will experience fear when seeing their mommy leave their surroundings and go away. What you say and how you say it can be understood by your child. If you have a baby you are nursing, try to schedule time to nurse your baby right before you leave. Holding and comforting your baby this way is a great way to make a connection, and talking to your baby helps to relax him. If you are feeling anxious about leaving your baby, he will most definitely sense this. If you have done your homework, and are confident in the environment in which you are leaving him, let this come through in your voice. Your tone of voice will reassure him you'll be back soon and that you love him. Your toddler invariably starts his tantrum early, before you even leave the house for the daycare center. Day care issues can impact the home environment as well but there are ways to get around this too. Start by being consistent. You have made up your mind to put your child in daycare, stick to the routine. Don't look for ways to skip days; it won't get your child through this transition period any smoother. Before bedtime, read storybooks that talk about daycare. Go to the library; the librarian can help you choose books geared to your child's age. At the very least, talk to your child during story time; explain to him where you will be going and that you will be back for him when you are done working. Day care issues such as separation anxiety can last for up to two weeks or longer depending on your child. If you feel he is he exhibiting more serious reactions at drop off time than previously or if he seems to be more upset or generally not your happy child, maybe an unannounced visit to the facility is called for. If you drop in and look around, you can help yourself get a better picture of how your child's day is going. Maybe he is unhappy because the environment is unhealthy for him, and this is the only way he can tell you. Then it would be time to change day care facilities. Day Care Germs An Unavoidable Pest Germs are everywhere. And day care germs abound. They are too small to see but we know they are there. Children can spread germs without ever getting sick themselves. They can catch colds, ear infections, diarrhea and worse. More severe illnesses like chicken pox, impetigo and hepatitis are also spread by germs. Toys are a vehicle for day care germs, so are unwashed hands of a caregiver after diaper change or blowing a child's runny nose. Runny noses don't always mean a child is sick, but the child can also be carrying something right under your nose so to speak, and you won't know it for several days until your symptoms start showing. So how can you cut back on day care germs and minimize your child's sick days Every child gets sick eventually with the average cold, but chances of spreading it to the other day care children and the sick child's family can be greatly reduced by following a few simple rules. Always keep up to date with your child's immunizations. Schools will not enroll children in kindergarten without the immunization records filled out by the family physician. The same requirements must be met for daycare enrollment as well. Keep copies of your child's immunization records and have them ready to give to the daycare provider. You can request information on the other children enrolled in the daycare facility as well. All children enrolled in any daycare facility your child is going to should be immunized. You should always have a backup plan for days when your child is sick and cannot attend daycare. Even if you suspect your child is catching something, he should be kept at home. The other daycare mothers will appreciate your compliance with this and they should follow suit. But there are times when some parents ignore the customary considerations surrounding children attending public environments and send their children off to daycare sick anyway. At home, frequent hand washing can greatly reduce the chances of passing the illness on the rest of the family. As a general rule, washing your hands after coming in contact with your child is a good idea. One never knows if they are contagious with something and keeping your hands free of daycare germs, as well as any surfaces that the child may come in contact with, is good prevention. Door handles, eating utensils, toys, and plastic items such as beginner baby books should all be kept sanitized. Toddlers should be taught right from the start to cover their mouth when they cough and proper toileting and cleanliness is a must. Stepstools in front of bathroom sinks enable children to wash their hands like big kids and colorful child-oriented soap dispensers add to the fun. Children build immunities by being sick and then getting well. Daycare germs can speed up the process that would otherwise take place in the first years of school, even babies start building immunities by contact with other children. So a child who has never been in daycare and hasn't been sick very much will be thrown in a preschool that abounds with germs and his immunities begin to build but at the expense of lost school days. So whether parents like it or not, daycare germs do have their place in a growing child's life. Day Care Costs Don't Have to Send You to the Poorhouse Congratulations! You've just had a baby. But you need to get back to work and the mounting pressure of wondering what you're going to pay in day care costs is causing you to lose sleep. But it needn't be so. Keep in mind that your baby continues to grow and in about 4 years your day care costs will begin declining as your child enters school. As more time is spent in school and after school activities, less time will be spent in day care. Even though it is a small percentage, child care expenses are deductible off your taxes. Other ways to combat day care costs include rearranging your work schedule if at all possible, sharing child care with your spouse or partner, and finding a telecommute job so you can stay at home. Relatives or family friends can often help out. High school or college students are also a source worth looking into. If you live near a large college, it may be profitable for you to place an ad in the newspaper, and if you have the space, considering offering a trade of room and board for child care. Of course not all of these options apply to everyone, but these ideas can lead to brainstorming and solutions can follow. Day care costs depend primarily on where you reside, the type of day care you need and how often you'll need it, and how old your baby is. The biggest factor in determining day care costs is your location. But most of us are not willing to change where we live, so let's take a look at some of the other factors. Your baby's age is also not a variable factor, but it can be a consideration when deciding how much time to have him spend in day care. You might want to consider that the more time your child spends in day care each week, the better the quality of that care should be. That does not necessarily mean that a family day care provider will have better prices but lower quality care and the reverse is also true of larger day care centers. Day care costs are solely dependent on the provider and the rates that the market in your area can bear. Day care centers are not as expensive as nannies; in-home care can be less expensive than a day care center. Day care costs are going to impact your income no matter which type you choose. But quality definitely differs in that a small, unlicensed family day care provider may in fact give more individualized attention than a larger facility if that provider has a genuine love of children. One does not have to have a bachelor's degree to love children. On the other hand, a larger licensed day care center may provide a more structured educational environment, and have more children for your child to interact with, but based on your location this may not be any more expensive than some of your other options. Military personnel (activateddeployed only) can file for financial aid for day care costs; The over 850 locations nationwide of CCR&R (Child Care Resource and Referral) can also help with determining which type of child care is best for you and the day care costs involved. Childcare Tips for the Mother-to-Be The search for childcare ideally should begin when you discover your due date. This gives you plenty of time to research your childcare options. Depending on the type of childcare you choose, there are several items of importance to consider before selecting a provider. Are you going to need in-home care in which a single caregiver comes to your home If this is the type of care you need, be aware that many of these providers are not licensed nor are they required to be licensed. In this case it is especially important to get references from previous employers for at least 5 years. Ask for names and phone numbers; don't hesitate to call the parents who have used their services. If the provider refuses or is unable to provide this information for you, move on. In-home caregivers may be left alone with your child, they may be unlicensed and are often costlier than other types of childcare; caution should be exercised when choosing this type of childcare. Another option is family childcare, which is a more casual environment with a limited amount of children enrolled, and is usually less expensive than day care centers. This type of childcare requires you to drop off and pick up your child at the person's home. Often there are charges made if you are late in picking up your child; the caregiver is more like a nine-to-five business and may strictly enforce this rule. These types of childcare providers should be licensed, and the type of care provided is left up to the individual so again, references from other parents are crucial. Still another option is a day care center, which must be licensed. Your child will be among more children, receiving less individualized care than the previous two types of childcare mentioned. However, there are many benefits to this type longer hours of operation, less stringent rules on pick up and drop off times, and more activities with more children to interact with. The down side may be the more children your child is exposed to the more chance of illness and other problems resulting from interacting with many young children at once. Before you have your baby is the best time for you to visit your prospective childcare providers. Take along a notepad with you; make notes of any positive or negative items you will want to check into later. Checklists provided by several websites can be printed out, using your notes for comparison. If you are going to be returning to work after maternity leave, having several providers lined up will make your intro back to work less stressful. If you are working out of your home, or work part time, it is still beneficial to have a childcare provider on call for emergencies. This would be a drop-in provider who can be called at the last minute and basically is an on-call provider. Having a drop-in childcare option will also afford you some time to get back into the routine post-baby. Even a few hours a week can give you time to do the grocery shopping, keep doctor's appointments, have lunch with a friend or just get out of the house for an hour. What Child Care Options are Available in Phoenix? Phoenix, AZ boasts a large, diverse population, and it strives to meet the needs of that population. A need in any area is care for the children, particularly during working times when both parents are unavailable. Because of this, Phoenix child care options are as diverse as its people. Child care is available for all ages, from six weeks of age on up. Parents have a variety of choices. One is to place their child in a traditional child care institutional setting. Here qualified teachers will care for their children in an age appropriate setting, with a reasonable staff to child ratio. Such facilities maintain a classroom setting and structured daily schedule very close to what the child will encounter when entering Kindergarten. An institutional style pre-school is also available, solely for children of preschool age (three and four year olds). There are two types, traditional and Montessori. In a traditional setting, the focus is on preparing the child to enter school, and the situation is very much like Kindergarten will be. The children follow a schedule, and begin basic work on pre-reading and math skills. Much of this is done in a manner similar to that of a classroom, with much of the learning done on paper, and generally one or two adults to fourteen or fifteen children. Montessori schools are a bit different. Classes are generally smaller in size, and the focus shifts a bit from the norm to a more hands-on approach; children learn school skills in much the same way they learned in their toddler years. Classrooms are divided into activity areas, and the children move in small groups from center to center completing small tasks. For example, children learn to count and add not by looking at numbers on paper, but by being given a bowl of beans and spooning them from one cup to another as they count. Felt boards or letter peg games are used to teach spelling, and generally there are plants and/or animals in the rooms to teach the children how other species live and grow. For those who don't choose to place their children in an institutional setting, several in-home daycares are available. These are people who have elected to open their homes to children, making them part of their daily life and placing them in a setting very close to what they would have in their own home. Costs for these daycares are often lower than those of institutions, and there are often a fewer number of children present; however, unless they specify otherwise, one person is usually responsible for a large range in age, from infant on up. These will often offer before and after school care as well. Should a parent prefer to have their child(ren) cared for in their own home, they are given the option of either hiring a nanny (think Mary Poppins) or an au pair. A nanny may be hired either independently or through an agency, and may live in the home or commute from their own home daily. They are, in essence, a contracted baby-sitter, and costs for these are usually higher than an institution. An au pair is a student, generally from another country, who comes to live with a host family while attending school. They are given room and board and a small allowance in exchange for a set number of hours of childcare a week, as well as assistance with housework and other chores. In home care is more expensive than out of home; however, the benefits to the child are innumerable. How to Find Child Day Care in Phoenix, Arizona Phoenix offers a wide variety of day care options to its residents, allowing them to choose between either an institutional facility or an in-home one; parents of preschoolers can choose to place their child in either a "traditional" preschool or enroll them in a Montessori school. Those who desire one-on-one care for their child may choose to hire either a nanny or an au pair, either privately or through an agency. Selecting which of these choices is the right one for an individual is a difficult task at best, and choosing an individual caregiver harder still. There are many resources that can help parents with this. Word of mouth is a wonderful endorsement. Parents know best what parents like, and the opinions of other families can help offer direction if taken with a grain of salt. Bear in mind that if one parent likes a caregiver and another does not, it is possible they each seek different qualities from a day care environment; however, if several sources have expressed dissatisfaction with a specific facility there may be a problem. Any Phoenix Department of Social Services can provide a list of licensed day care providers, as well as preschools and before and after school care in the area. A licensed day care is one that has met state requirements for operation, and is required to provide at least a minimum level of care to maintain its license. For parents of preschoolers, Social Services and the area Health Department can also provide information and applications for the local Head Start programs, if available. Local pediatricians can also be a fount of information when it comes to finding day care in Phoenix due to the volume of patients they see-Moms love to talk! It's fairly likely that any physician who has been in the area for any length of time will be able to recommend a reputable day care. A pediatrician who is familiar with a child's history and temperament may also be able to assist you in deciding whether the child would be better placed in a group setting or with one-on-one care, as with a nanny or au pair. If no results are yielded after following these methods, a phone book or newspaper classified ad will provide a list of providers and numbers; however, as little else is provided with these ads, it is always advisable to plan on visiting a day care before deciding if it is the right one. You should also prepare a list of questions pertaining to policies such as payment, drop off/pick up times, emergency procedures, staff experience and training, and any other issues you are concerned about prior to contacting the provider. This way all vital pieces of information are exchanged prior to the child ever setting foot in the facility, and both parent and educator know in advance responsibilities and expectations, reducing the chance of misunderstanding farther down the road. Do not be afraid to request to set up an interview or sit in on a class; this is an excellent chance to view their day-to-day routine before signing on the bottom line. What Is Pet Day Care? Many people shudder at the thought of leaving their animals home alone. Like children, pets require love and attention during the day as well as at night. From this fundamental belief was founded the idea of pet day care. At day care your pet will be fed, groomed, trained and played with any time you are not available to do so. Pet day care can be divided into two categories: boarding services and actual day care. Boarding services can be found for animals from hamsters to horses, and are particularly useful if an owner is going to be away overnight or for an extended period of time and has no one to care for their pet in their home, or if an owner has insufficient space for the care of a large animal (this is very common in the case of horses). The pet will be given their own sleeping space, feeding dishes and toys, and will be cared for daily as if they were home. Time is allotted for daily grooming, training, exercise and play. Day care is available for pets whose owners wish to drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the evening after working hours. Again, bedding, toys and feeding bowls are often provided. While facilities of this type can be found for most small animals, dogs are the main focus, and many more facilities for them can be found than for others. At doggy day care, dogs are cared for by a staff of trained professionals, educated in dog behavior, safety and health management. They are groomed and provided training by an experienced trainer according to their level of knowledge. In most facilities dogs are separated into groups according to both age and size. As the equipment for small dogs is inadequate for large ones, while large equipment may overwhelm a small dog, this is very important for a pet's well being. The division is usually made at twenty five pounds. Puppies have their own separate area, where they are played with, taught basic training and, just like a young child, are "potty trained" (housebroken). Plenty of personal attention is given, with time allotted for play and naps. Another trend that is currently sweeping the nation is pet spas. These generally cater only to smaller animals. Here animals are groomed, exercised and pampered in the same manner as humans visiting a spa; their ears, teeth, nails and hair will be cared for, and they will be walked, played with, massaged (if the facility has the appropriately trained staff) and cared for. These services, again, can be found for most small animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs, and may be purchased on a daily basis or for extended periods of time (overnight stays are available in spas with boarding facilities). A variation on this theme is offered in do-it-yourself pet spas, where owners are encouraged to groom their pet themselves, furthering the bond between pet and human. The spa will provide the appropriate space, as well as a wash basin, shampoo, nail clippers and other grooming equipment. Pet spas can be a wonderful treat for all animals. Why Place Your Dog In Daycare? Daycare for dogs is a concept that is becoming more and more popular among the working population. Prior to the development of pet care, animals were left home all day, often penne up in cages, locked inside houses, or fenced in yards, left on their own to entertain themselves or cause trouble as they see fit. Many an owner has come home to a destroyed home, chewed up shoes or an escaped dog running free in the neighborhood. Dog daycare eliminates that problem by providing a safe place for animals to stay and play while their owners are away. While not enrolling your dog in daycare is not going to turn them into the undertrained laughingstock of the neighborhood, there are many advantages to doing so. In a doggie daycare dogs are provided with grooming services daily, including, but not limited to, bathing, brushing, nail trimming, coat clipping, and cleaning of eyes, ears and teeth. More in depth procedures, such as cleaning of anal glands, may be available at some centers. In a society where a disobedient dog may result in them having to be put to sleep, it is very important that all dogs be well trained. Dogs spend time each day with a professional trainer, who works consistently with them on basic obedience commands such as sitting and coming when called. A "doggie boot camp" is available in many locations for pets who have previously had difficulties in training. Many of these animals have been written off as untrainable. A highly educated staff works with the animals daily, using repetition to teach the dogs basic skill. A high level of success has been achieved through these programs, allowing the dogs to have more time and focus given to their training than is possible with an owner who works all day. Play time and exercise time are both important components of a canine day care facility. Dogs are walked several times a day, and like children are often given a playground to play on, allowing them to run, jump and climb. Separate faculties are available for both large and small size dogs, with the separation being made at or around twenty five pounds. Puppies have their own separate area, where they are played with, housebroken, and loved. As with a child care facility, guidelines are established for feeding and napping, with food bowls and sleeping space provided by the day care. Any nutritional or physical needs the dogs have are observed, with any problems discussed with both the owner and a veterinarian. In this way, all parties are involved in a dog's care, and the chances of a dog being cared for improperly are greatly reduced. Along with playground time, all dogs are given plenty of one-on-one playtime with staff. This time is essential for the dogs happiness, and illustrates the most important benefit of placing a dog in daycare. Dogs, like children, require love and attention throughout the day to be happy and well adjusted. Dogs that receive this love and attention are less likely to develop common misbehavior problems, and these happy dogs will make happy owners. Should You Take Your Dog On Vacation? Crisp mountain air, wide open fields, and clear crystal lakes all present a fantastic vacation picture for man and his dog. The opportunities for bonding over fresh fish are difficult for the dog lover and nature enthusiast to pass up. Unfortunately, not all vacations are as canine friendly as this one. The image of that same dog that would have so happily loped across the beach confined to a hotel room in New York City or in a car for three days on a coast to coast road trip is not nearly as appealing. If you are planning on taking a vacation in a spot that would be unsuitable for your pet, it may be wise to consider boarding them while you are away. Hundreds of boarding kennels are in operation across the country. The staff at these facilities have made an occupation out of their love for animals and would be happy to provide a temporary home for your canine companion. Anywhere from ten to one hundred dogs may be in residence at any given point in time, depending on the size of the facility, and costs vary by location. The kennel will provide feeding dishes, bedding, toys and a place to sleep for the duration of your pet's stay. As with many child care facilities, dogs are often asked not to bring their personal possessions with them in order to avoid the eventuality of them being stolen or damaged. All grooming equipment and supplies will also be provided. The daily routine of a boarding kennel will include feeding on a regular schedule (if your dog has specific nutritional needs this should be discussed with the director prior to placing your dog), grooming services, including but not limited to shampooing, nail clipping, and cleaning of eyes and ears, and scheduled and unscheduled rest times for the dogs, as needed. Plenty of play time is provided, with one on one time with the staff, independent play and group activities with the other pets in residence. Some kennels may provide time with a trainer as well; however, this is not guaranteed and should be discussed with the program director. A good kennel should have a vet on call at all times, as well as trained staff to deal with any emergencies. When selecting a kennel, be sure to thoroughly check out the facilities firsthand. The animals should have plenty of personal sleeping space in an area where they are protected from the elements, as well as room to play inside and out. The grounds should be free of litter and waste, as well as any potential dangers to the dogs. This should include poisonous plants, sharp objects, or any electrical hazards. Your local veterinarian should be able to assist you in finding a high quality boarding kennel in your area, or you can contact the American Boarding Kennels Association. Once you have located a good boarding facility you can enjoy your vacation, secure in the knowledge that your pet is being well cared for. What To Do With Your Pet When You Go On Vacation There are many individuals who, being avid pet enthusiasts, will gladly take their pets hither and yon. With many hotels now allowing small animals, and dog walking services abounding, this is becoming more and more of a possibility; however, should you decide this family togetherness is not for you, there are many options available. Most pet care services also offer an option for boarding your pet, in much the same way that many childcare providers offer overnight services. For a fee your pet can live like a king in your absence! Okay, not really. But a quality boarding care service will do wonders to set your mind at ease about your pet's well being in your absence. To begin selecting a boarding service, first ask around. Other dog owners can often recommend a good facility, usually one they use for their own animals. A veterinarian should have some knowledge of long term care availability in the area, and can probably suggest a site that they believe would suit. A yellow page search will list dog day care services, and it will be up to you to call around and gather information pertaining to their hours of operation and whether they are willing to board your pet or not. Regardless of which method you choose, there are several key pieces of information that you should gather before leaving your dog in the care of someone else. First, find out the qualifications of the staff. Are there professional trainers present? What about a nutritionist? Have the people who will care for your dog been trained to handle emergencies, both medical and otherwise? Is there a vet on call twenty four-seven? Anyone can claim to be qualified to watch your dog overnight, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are actually able to do what they claim. It would be wise to choose a facility that has a staff member present overnight; a great deal can happen between nine o'clock at night and six o'clock the next morning. Next, inspect the boarding facility itself. It should be clean and well organized, with nothing present that could present a possible danger to the dogs. There should be plenty of room for the animals to run and play in a protected, fenced in area, with isolation spots for any pet that does not adapt well to the day care environment (much like with a child). Play equipment and toys should be of appropriate style for the size of dog. (Equipment meant for a small dog is not going to be very stimulating for a Great Dane). Sleeping areas should be adequate, and if the dogs are kept in cages they should be of an appropriate size to allow the dog to move around. Waste should be disposed of quickly, both inside and out. If both the staff and facility meet your standards, it is time to look into the daily schedule for the animals. One of the greatest advantages of boarding your dog as opposed to simply leaving him (or her) at home is that they have an opportunity to play and mingle through the day with people and other dogs, maintaining or even exceeding their usual levels of activity. A day at a good boarding care center should include time for the animals to be fed and groomed, work with the trainers, play, both with the staff and on their own, and rest. If everything appears as it should be, you can probably feel secure leaving the boarding facility with your contact information and enjoying your vacation, knowing your dog is in good hands. What To Do If You Have Trouble Training Your Dog While most dogs are agreeable to learning basic rules of obedience if started at a young age, every once in a while a dog and a master just won't be able to come together to find a successful training routine. This can be extremely frustrating for both parties involved. Fortunately, there are many outside sources that can help with this. The most popular are "doggie daycare" or "doggie boot camps", pet care programs very similar to child daycares. At a dog daycare, dogs are paired with trainers for an hour or two each day and taught basic obedience; sit, come, don't bite the nice salesman. Once the dogs have mastered that, more advanced training is often available. The focus here is not entirely on training, however. Day cares for dogs are intended to provide a safe, happy place for a dog to go while their owner is at work, and they allow the animals plenty of play time, often complete with canine playground, as well as an in-depth grooming regimen daily; they will clip the dog's nails, clean their ears and eyes, bathe them and trim their coats when it is needed. More in-depth grooming options may be available; however, this varies by facility. Doggie boot camp is becoming increasingly popular as a way to deal with animals that have simply refused to be trained. A group of professional trainers will work with your dog daily, for several hours a day, teaching them to obey basic commands. Each facility's methods of doing this are different; some use punishment based techniques, while others use rewards and positive reinforcement. This may be a boarding program, where your dog goes to a separate facility for a length of time, sleeping there, or it may be done as a day school, where the owner drops the dog off in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon. Some programs work with the owners as well; you and your dog will have a session with the trainer in which they will teach you to teach your dog to listen, and how to work together without being frustrated. Canine boot camp can seem like a gift from the heavens, but owners should be careful. Beware of programs that claim to give you a perfectly trained animal within a matter of days; while a dog may be able to learn a trick or two in that time, it is unlikely the training will stick with them once they have returned home. Observation of their training techniques is important as well; while results are important, excessive force should not be used. Regardless of which program you decide to use, investigate the facility and the staff carefully. Confirm the credentials of the staff, and that they have been trained to handle any emergencies that may arise while your dog is in their care. Be sure that the facility is clean, of adequate size and does not possess any features which may be hazardous to the dogs. Each dog should have its separate space, with plenty of time allotted for feeding and rest, and an isolation area should be available for any animal who becomes uncontrollable. Information on these programs can be obtained online, through your veterinarian, and through the SPCA.
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