Choosing Child Care can be Complicated

I have a love/hate relationship with alliterative blog post titles.

Yesterday I had my first prospective client meeting of the year, and I’m happy to say it went perfectly! The mom brought her little girl over during nap time and we ended up talking for over an hour. The kids I was looking after yesterday woke up before they left so she got to see me interacting with children other than her own, and also see her baby interacting with the children who already come here. Barring complications I’ll have a new one-year-old baby starting at the daycare in the last week of February. Yay!

During our meeting, the mom said one of my favorite things: “I really like talking with you and your whole setup here and I feel good about leaving my baby with you.” I can literally never hear that too many times! Wooing new clients is tricky; first-time moms are justifiably nervous and skittish about leaving their precious wee baby with a total stranger who they picked off a list. I do get some clients via referrals from other families I work/have worked with, or from acquaintances or other child cares, but most people who call me have gotten my child care’s name and number from the Child Care Resource and Referral Centre, which keeps a list of all the registered and licensed child cares in the city.

There are tons of things for a parent to consider when selecting a child care, practical things like:
Are the hours suitable for the family’s needs?
I’m open from 7:45 until 5:15 so obviously someone who starts work at 7am or doesn’t get off until 6pm wouldn’t choose to send their child here, but someone who works from 8am until 5pm could easily drop their child off and pick him or her up on time.
Are the fees reasonable/within the parents’ ability to pay?
My fees are about average for the part of the city I live in, but like most things in Vancouver, child care isn’t cheap.
Is the child care conveniently located?
It totally is! My apartment is in a nice residential neighborhood in the West End, near parks and schools, but also within walking distance to the business, financial and shopping districts.

While these things are all important, the most important thing of all is this: Do the parents like and trust the child care provider enough to leave their child with them? If someone had a daycare half a block from you and charged well below the average fee, but the provider gave you the creeps or seemed nasty, you would probably keep looking! This is why I like people to come by to meet me and see the space, even if they don’t need child care right away. I had one client who, before coming here, had been 99% sure she was going to go with this one daycare. After a year of emails and phone calls, she finally went over to see the child care in person and the place was filthy and smelled bad and the provider had a weird vibe. It could have been super nice and fun for the kids there, but the parent didn’t feel comfortable so she ended up starting her daycare search all over again.

When selling prospective clients on choosing my child care over another, what I’m really selling them on in me. Is my apartment clean and safe enough for their child, with plenty of room to play and grow? Do I provide fun and suitable games and activities for children of that age group? Am I going to take good care of their baby for them, love and nurture him or her while they, the parents, are at work? How can you even tell that about a person when meeting them for the first time, talking for 30 or 40 minutes?

I really can’t even imagine, I didn’t have to worry about this when Symphony was a baby. I didn’t go back to work until she was three, and when I did start working part-time she first went to my friend Jenny’s child care downstairs from our old apartment, and when I went full-time she started going to the YMCA group daycare two doors down. I had seen both Jenny and the women who worked at the group daycare interacting with kids every day for years before my daughter ever went to those daycares. I guess I was pretty lucky then, but I’m also pretty lucky now, that I’m one someone who people do trust to take care of their kids, so I get to do this great job!

8 Replies to “Choosing Child Care can be Complicated”

  1. This was really interesting to read, and completely on the mark. I enjoy this blog as much as your LJ! (which is hard to say without sounding like a stalker….). Anywho, keep on writing.

    I keep meaning to try again to actually meet up for coffee with you sometime, if you are still potentially interested in meeting sassy (non-crazies) folks from the internets. If it is a yea, do you have any availability Monday or Tuesday after your workday is done? Adieu for now.

    1. LOL STALKER.

      Monday after work I have Sym to take care of and on Tuesdays I take her to piano, I’d be free after 7pm though.

      1. I could do Tuesday, it is one of the miraculous nights where I am not at work or at school, the two bloody things that ruin my life. I live out in North Van, but have no probs getting down into the city….

        1. Cool! Do you want to go for crepes? BECAUSE I LOVE CREPES. Cafe Crepe on Granville, the one next to American Apparel, at 7:30-ish?

              1. I must now make it a bit later, at around 10 after 8, as I have now been asked to work briefly and I am debt-ridden and money-hungry. BUT I can make it by 8:10. Still okay?

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