8 Red Flags: Beware in Child Care


When searching for child care there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. Below is a quick list of 8 red flags that impact the quality of care provided.

Staff-child ratio not posted in the center classroom
Each classroom should have the staff-child ratio posted on the wall where it is easily visible. Watch for facilities that over enroll children and then bounce them to other rooms or operate out-of-ratio.

High staff turnover (center-based care)
Ask what the staff turnover has been in the past year.  The statewide average is about 30%. You want your child to have a consistent, stable caregiver.

Many complaints filed against the facility
Use Division of Child Development website: (http://ncchildcaresearch.dhhs.state.nc.us/search.asp).  Look at past history—under the DCD Visits tab—as well as most current. Pay close attention to the number of complaint investigations. A high number of complaints, whether they are substantiated or unsubstantiated can tell you a great deal about the quality of a facility. Also, pay close attention to the Actions Taken tab.

Lots of baby furniture in the infant room or FCCH
Look for lots of open floor space. Young children need “floor and explore” time and should not be confined to walkers, swings, bouncy seats, saucer seats, jumper seats, and cribs for the majority of the day.  If there is a lot of equipment it is a sure sign that it is being used!

Babies constantly crying, crying for long periods
This can indicate that children may only be receiving basic, custodial care. Infant care is very demanding and having enough staff to provide adequate care is critical.

Teachers standing over children or sitting in rockers or chairs
Caregivers should be interacting with children. This means they sit on the floor and play, sing, read books, and engage children in activities to stimulate their language, growth, and development.

Language—negative or positive?
Listen to the language coming out of all classrooms. Do you hear loud voices, harsh tones, and negative statements? OR Do you hear teachers speaking to children in a positive, encouraging, respectful manner?

Unhappy sounds
Listen for the sounds coming out of the classrooms. Is there laughter, noise, and happiness?  There should be.  If not, keep on looking.


Cost of Child Care

Child care costs are usually second after your monthly rent or mortgage.  There are many factors to consider when searching for child care: your budget, the type of care, quality of care and location.

Today we will focus on cost.  Your budget will obviously dictate what type of care you may be able to afford. Nanny care is the most expensive type of child care.  Dependent on your location rates can be $15-$20 per hour or more for one child and increase with additional children.  

Center based care is typically more expensive than a Family Child Care Home (FCCH), because obviously they have more overhead and operating expenses.  There are usually more children per classroom in center based care and they are the same age.  FCCH's are typically limited to 5 children or less, so there is a variety of ages together.

There is also Relative Care - where a family member provides care for your child - and that is usually a lower cost, negotiable, and sometimes even free!

Keep in mind that you pay tuition even if your child is sick or you go on vacation.  Some facilities will offer a break on fees for vacation or waive them all together for a specific time frame once a year.

Most facilities also charge a registration fee, either a one-time or annually.  In some instances, both.

Bottom line - no pun intended - if you are expecting or are just now going to start using child care be sure to analyze all of your costs.  Including your gas, meals, clothes, time and other miscellaneous expenses that will be incurred when you go back to work.

Happy searching!