Childcare, it’s one of the biggest issues personally and professionally. I will say, once the childcare piece is in place you can concentrate on the here and now, which is your baby.
Giving yourself enough time to find someone and hire them before you actually have to return to work , should leave you feeling much more confident in your decision. For all parents, the overwhelming question of “how do I begin this search” is often coupled with a fear of leaving their baby with a “stranger”. Good and affordable childcare is an emotional and financial issue for all parents.
A part time babysitter can run $12-15 an hour. A nanny (full time sitter) can range in price from $400-700. Referrals come from all sorts of places; neighbors, friend’s babysitters, the playground, a bulletin board, your friends. If you are looking for a part time or occasional sitter, you might try calling Cabrini High School at 212 923-3540, talk to the dean of students. They have identified good candidates for babysitting and will help match a student with a family. Barnard Babysitting Service is another option. Their telephone number is 212-854-2035. For a low fee they will try to match a student with your family’s part-time needs. You also might try posting in the lobby of Columbia’s School of Nursing student service board. Fax over your job description (212-305-3680) .
Before you interview the perspective nanny/babysitter you might want to find out their past experience and describe what you’ll need. Check references first then have a face to face. When talking to past employers ask if they’d hire them again. Find out how they found her and when and why she left. When interviewing the candidate clearly state what your expectations are and find out how flexible she is. Discuss safety issues and setting limits. Try to figure out what your views on TV or phone use would be, you expectation around nap schedules or housekeeping. Legally, you can ask anything you might feel is pertinent, from their health or medications they take to their own childcare needs. You can also ask to see an ID or driver’s license. You’ll want to be up front about vacations, sick days, travel expenses and general expectations. Some families write up agreements that all parties sign.
If a full time sitter is not affordable, Family Daycare, tends to be a less expensive option. Word of mouth and resources such as the Day Care Council of NY (www.dccnyinc.org) can provide licensed listings. Licensing requires 1 adult per 6 children (2 of which can be infants). Group Family Day Care requires 2 adults (1 provider and 1 assistant) for up to 12 kids, 4 of which can be infants.
Family day care can be a lovely option. Find out if they are licensed, what the ratio is, how the space accommodates both toddlers and infants, ask around and observe. The Department of Health can provide information on reported violations. For local listings of childcare resources you can look up www.washington-heights.us/ and click on resources and then click on childcare and you will find centers in the area.
Remember, who you hire now might not be the person you have in 6 months, 1 year or 3 . Your needs might change and your child’s needs might change. Factor in a trial period. From my experience there are more good childcare providers than bad. The more time you can have with this person or place before returning to work, the more comfortable you’ll feel leaving your baby. The relationship, ultimately, can be an enriching and loving experience for your baby and an asset to your family.