The Daycare Dilemma

As of Wednesday last week, we were informed of Avery’s daycare closing at the end of the month.  Eek. We were shocked, disappointed, worried and overwhelmed.  We had less than 3 weeks to find him a new daycare which isn’t an easy task because…

  • Daycare is expensive.  And the tuition/enrollment fees vary greatly in our area, so it’s a like finding a needle in a haystack when you discover one that isn’t outrageously priced. (To give you an idea, I was quoted $1800 a month for one… yeah. almost two thousand dollars a month!)
  • Daycare’s have LONG waiting lists.  We started looking at daycare options before Avery was born, and once he came (early!) we quickly snagged a ‘slot’ at his daycare because some places have 3-12 month waiting lists.  Yes, some are a year long – which means as soon as you find out your expecting, you have to reserve the slot!
  • Daycare’s are difficult to find (for us).  Since we both don’t have roots in this area, we don’t know the area well – so we don’t know what all the daycare options are – so that leave us to ask around and do lots of ‘googling’.

So, after were given the news and it had time to sink in during our days at work, and Avery was put to bed, we regrouped (with a big bottle of wine) on our back deck.  We vented our concerns and stress.  And we explored all possible options…

  • Become a Stay-At-Home-Mom-If we can’t find a fit with a daycare, is it possible to stop working and become a one-income household?

    • Pros: More time with Avery
    • Cons:  Could we afford it?  What about insurance and other company benefits we’d lose?  Avery wouldn’t have daily interaction with other kiddos.
  • Find a new full-time daycare-located near home so we can share pick-up & drop off (Avery’s current daycare is by my office which requires me to do most transporting)
    • Pros: sharing transportation = shorter daycare day for Avery and more flexibility for our schedules
    •  Cons: Can we find one that we can afford?  The daycares near home are more expensive than ones near my office.  Will there be any openings?
  • Find a new part-time daycare– if we can’t find a daycare with full-time openings or that we can afford, at least we can do part-time?
    • Pros: More time for Avery at home
    • Cons: Do we have the option for less/shorter work days to make this happen while not hurting financially?

After throwing all our ideas on the table and exploring our options, we decided to start our search for a daycare and if we found one that fit, we’d go with that.  If not, we’d explore the other two options (as backups).

And as if right on cue, we saw our neighbor in her side yard.  It was a long shot, but I went over to chat and ask if she knew of any daycares.  She doesn’t have any kids, so she wasn’t sure of any, but after thinking for a bit, she said her neighbor (on the other side) works at one.  She said she’d make a call.  10 minutes later she was outside waving a post-it with a name and number for me-a more corporate place, but still- A shot in the dark was worth it! Yay.

The next morning I was off at a run.  I made phone calls, sent emails, told co-workers, and pretty much exhausted all resources looking for a daycare.  I avoided the places I had gotten quotes at (that were ridiculously priced) when first looking for Avery’s daycare when he was born.  Another shot in the dark to a co-worker resulted in a name and number of a woman that had an in-home daycare.

As it turned out, the two shots in the dark both had openings, were located near home and on our commute routes, and were affordable (just a bit more than we pay now). So, we made appointments to see them that week – we wanted to tour them and (if we liked them) reserve a spot before someone else did!

  • Daycare #1  A more ‘corporate’ facility – they care for 45 kiddos, but they are grouped by age in mini-classroom like sections.  Each section has two ‘teachers’, one has a degree in early childhood education and the other is an assistant.  Our tour went very well.  The teachers were energetic and friendly.  The space looked safe and adequate for indoor and outdoor play.  Their curriculum is based on learning through play.
    • Pros:  We loved the safe environment, structured curriculum, and the teachers were very impressive – seeing them juggle fixing a bottle, prepping a bag for pickup, while talking to us and caring for an infant showed us they know what they’re doing!
    • ConsWe wonder if switching to a more corporate daycare is the right choice-as opposed to an in-home daycare?  Plus, the area for the classrooms seemed small – much smaller than the space Avery has right now… will that be limiting for him?  He’s so active and needs space to roam around.
  • Daycare #2  An in-home daycare with 6 kiddos.  A tag team, the care-providers are like a pair of grandparents.  Very down-to-earth, caring, and experienced.  There was a long playroom with toys & a TV area and a huge outdoor area with toys, cars to ride, grass to play on.  The parents picking up their kids when we were there seemed like family.
    • Pros: We loved the homey environment and huge outdoor space.  We felt they were experienced and caring from our interaction with them and the parents arriving for pick-up.
    • Cons: We were concerned that there weren’t any safety gates or locks, which with an exploring 10-month old, is scary. 

So, a little recap here… Wednesday we were told daycare was closing.  Thursday we toured Daycare #1.  Friday we toured Daycare #2.  We brought Grammy back to VT over the weekend and this week we’re calling references and making a decision…

How did you chose a daycare?  What were the deciding factors in your decision?

Side note – Following up with everyone’s suggestions yesterday, Avery tried some new table foods last night: bananas & raisins (along with his usual Gerber puffs and cheerios)
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14 thoughts on “The Daycare Dilemma

  1. For us we went with our gut. We visited a larger daycare facility which has different rooms for the ages and is very secure. We loved the people (especially the baby room) and decided to go with it. It has worked out well. Trust your gut momma. 🙂 I have faith it will work out for you and Avery!

    • Thanks for your input! I’m following up with references today and we’ll probably make our decision tonight! So stressful, but in the end, everything will turn out better than it was before!

      • Definitely! I know for us with the center we mainly focused on the room she would be in. We did tour the other rooms but know that things can change and staff could change by the time she got to the older rooms. So we felt that was where to put the most focus.

  2. We debated between a home daycare and center as well and ended up with a center that we absolutely love! For me it came down to these “pros” for the center:

    1. If the teacher is sick, the whole place doesn’t have to shut down- there is always someone there. 2. There is a lot of supervision of the teachers going on. There are cameras in all of the classrooms, the walls are windows into the hallway, and other teachers and the owner can (and do) pop into the classroom at any time. I trust that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing and what they’re telling me they’re doing because there is so much transparency. With a home daycare, I worried I would just have to believe what they said. 3. I like the structure and resources available at a bigger center. The facilities are very modern and nice and Annabel has access to a splash pad on Tuesdays and Fridays, a huge outdoor play area, pool (if we want her to have lessons), indoor infant gym, library full of books (for when she’s a little older), etc. 4. I know they aren’t just plopping her in front of a TV all day while they talk on the phone because there isn’t even one in the room:)

    Having said all that, there are cons to centers and homes do provide a more intimate environment, so it really just comes down to where YOU feel most comfortable leaving Avery and where you think he’ll thrive best. Good luck!

    • Thanks for sharing, Adrianne. Those Pros also crossed our mind – glad to see we’re thinking about all factors and other parents have dealt with the same thing. We’ll pick a place this week and then the stress can be gone!

  3. Both have pros and cons. We have used a home daycare and loved it but there are cons to this environment too like she took a 2 week vacation in the middle of the school year and had no back up. We had to scramble. Our kids are with other children older and younger all the time. The pros….few kids in a small environment with amazing care. Meals are provided (once they eat table food). The most important things that trump all other pros and cons is safety and your child’s happiness. There are going to be pro and cons to every situation…go with your gut! You will make the right decision for your family! No doubt, these decisions are hard but you all will be ok in the long run!! Good Luck!

    • Kendra, thanks for your input! You bring up great points and they really weigh into the decision..which, I might add, will be made tonight! I’m excited to have tackled this challenge and put the stress behind us!

  4. Absolutely go with your gut. The lack of safety at the home daycare should definitely be a concern. At my daycare, there was at least a teacher and assistant in each room as well. Note: The Department of Early Education and Care states the ratio of teachers to children is 1 teacher per 3 children for infants, 1 teacher per 4 children for toddlers, and 1 teacher per 10 children for preschool. The teachers ultimately hold the key. As long as they truly love the children, they will do everything they can for them.

    • Melissa, thanks for popping by! I’m pretty sure there are only 6-8 infants in the room Avery would be in and one teacher + one assistant, so I’ll have to double check and make sure they meet those standards – thanks for letting me know!

  5. I’m actually in this process now (for next year). I’ve heard that good childcare programs are crazy-hard to get into, so I started contacting places a week ago. I made an appointment to look at one place in Sept. and I have to wait on two others to see the facilities in Oct. This is definitely not an easy task.

    I appreciate you listing your pros/cons, as it is so helpful as I continue on my search.
    Good luck in choosing your facility.

    • Thanks, and good luck to you! I suggest visiting and getting info on many options – I wish I had saved all the research I did last year to find Avery a daycare so I could look back at it right now.

  6. Glad to hear you have some options! We were also in the same boat with not being from the area and not knowing of any in-home daycares which at first, I really wanted. Seeing as we didn’t know of any, it was hard. We knew someone, that knew someone, etc. but could we really trust them? In the end we went with a corporate chain daycare since we have limited options in our area. Not nearly expensive as Boston area (we pay $700 a month for full time). We do like it and Mikayla loves the infant room she is in (about 15 babies). The one thing I will tell you, and this is just my opinion, the downside to in home daycare is that they could, at any point in time, say “sorry, we dont want to do this anymore and we are closing”. Kinda like the situation you are in now. You will always run that risk with in-home. Luckily, this place didn’t give you a days notice and then leave you hanging.Just something to think about. What if you explored your part time option? That way, it might be easier to get him somewhere part time and you aren’t going from all income to nothing.

    • $700/a month!? We need to move. LOL. Yes, it’s very expensive here… being the ‘big city’ and all. That was an advantage of in-home care… the price was a little less… but the added security of a ‘center’ has us hooked too. And we did discuss part-time work and care… but that’s a later discussion after we get a slot at a place booked and put that stress behind us before making another big decision like that!

  7. Pingback: Dissolving the Daycare Dilemma « Todayi

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