Finding childcare that works for you can be stressful, especially when parents have to return to work quickly because of the lack of paid parental leave policies in the U.S. Searching for and deciding on care for your baby and young children can be a challenge – especially because the possibilities open to you may be limited, costs are high, and there are often wait lists for facilities. It can be painful when your instincts do not match what childcare arrangements are available. Talking to other parents and knowing your state’s resources can help you select the best option.
A helpful start to finding childcare may be considering the types of care you are most comfortable with – be it family, shared care with other parents, child care in home centers, a daycare facility, a split work day with your partner, asking grandparents to help, sharing a nanny, and other creative strategies.
Your local Child Care and Resource Referral (CCR&R) agency can assist with the search. Type in your zip code or City, State here. You’ll receive information about child care providers near you. From there you can review the details, connect with the facility by phone, and potentially schedule a tour to see the location, get the feel of the daily rhythms, and meet the caretakers. Don’t forget to check out local faith communities who may have less expensive programs.
Here is a resource to guide you as you prepare to select a child care program. This guide includes a checklist of considerations and questions to ask the program staff and directors.
Child care facilities are regulated by states. Here are state by state regulations, and financial programs to support child care costs. Employers sometimes offer resources around childcare. Check with the human resources benefits coordinator if this exists. Some companies might have formal or informal relationships with child care programs.
Finding, selecting, and paying for childcare is a big task. For many who use registered child care centers, the costs are tax-deductible.
An important note, many mothers-to-be and new moms find this to be very hard to figure out. The stress of finding care for baby and other children, decisions to be made about returning to work and costs of child care, and friction between partners who may be approaching this differently is a big deal. You are absolutely NOT alone in this struggle.
Additional Resources to Explore:
State by state resources for child care, financial assistance, health and social services.
This booklet from the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute has great information about breastfeeding as well as tips for returning to work, dealing with child care and breastfeeding. Click here to read it.