A License to Love: Home Daycare Providers

| February 25, 2013 | 2 Comments

august 2011 009

Choosing a daycare is not a decision to take lightly.  Afterall, your child(ren) could potentially spend years of their life with the provider that you choose:

  • A full-time spot from the age of 1-3.5 when a child starts school can add up to over 6200 hours* or almost ¾ of an entire year of their life
  • Attending a before/after school program from the age of 3.5-12 can add up to over 5700 hours** (not including summer, winter & spring breaks) or another 2/3 of an entire year of their life
  • A child who attends full-time daycare from the age of 1-3.5 plus before/after school care until the age of 12 (plus full-time daycare during school breaks and summer vacation) could potentially spend almost 17, 000 hours*** in the care of a provider.  That’s almost two years of their life.

(You’re excused while you go hug your kids.  Come back to continue reading, k?!)

These calculations surely reinforce the profound impact that choosing the right daycare can have on a child and family – no wonder negative publicity draws our attention.  Sadly though, the public sometimes loses objectivity when it comes to judging private home daycare environments and somehow sees no injustice in lumping all providers together at the bottom of the barrel.  In contrast, when we see a piece on the news about a local restaurant that has been sanctioned by the health inspector, we simply choose not to eat there anymore.  When we hear through social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) that a salon offers poor service, we choose another.  But when we hear about an uncaring provider or unsafe environment, the reaction is often “all private home daycares are bad.”

CBC marketplace ran one such piece titled “Who’s Watching The Kids?” on Friday, February 22, 2013 which painted an overwhelmingly GRIM picture of the quality of private home daycares.  Because it did not highlight any exemplary providers or top-notch environments as well, I feel like CBC didn’t treat the matter fairly or with the respect that it warrants.  Are they suggesting that families who choose to leave their child(ren) in the care of private home daycare providers are making a dangerous or poor choice?  And are they implying that those who have no choice in the matter, are playing with fire?

I’m especially saddened for those parents who have been crunching their numbers and are considering opening a private home daycare to enable them to stay at home with their own children instead of returning to work outside the home.   Running a private home daycare out of our home full-time for over 5 years, and now as a before/afterschool venture has been the BIGGEST part of my Save-at-Home-Mom strategy, and certainly one of the most important jobs I’ve ever had in terms of contributing to society.  I’m infinitely proud of the work I’ve done and what it has brought to our family.  Not only am I gaining back those 2 years with my own children, we are enjoying that time with other friends in the comfort of our own home, at a pace that we choose, and where our family values are nurtured. And I’m not talking about anything terribly philosophical here.  Think more along the lines of:

  • “outside play trumps crafts”
  • “finish your fruit before having a biscuit”
  • “ask your friend how long their turn is going to be, and if you can have a turn when they’re done” (ok, maybe this last one is slightly profound – we all know some grown-ups who could have used a little more guidance as youngsters when it came to learning how to share and asking direct questions!)backyard july 2011

My time as a private home daycare provider has been extremely rewarding and I would hate to see anyone turned off of the idea based on the few examples that were highlighted in the CBC piece last week.  If you currently operate, or are considering opening a private home daycare, I think the key to avoiding this type of negative publicity is to find families who have similar values to yours and who will appreciate your childrearing philosophies.  Find a way to communicate those values (either in writing in the form of a contract/handbook or through personal interaction) and be sure to inquire about their styles/preferences when you’re interviewing them to make sure you’re a match.

This control over who is part of our daycare family has allowed me to shape the dynamic of our environment.  And in my experience, clients find comfort in the fact in knowing that I’ll only invite other families into the fold who are of similar mind/style.  This is one of two key differences between a private home daycare versus a licensed daycare:

  1. I’m able to select my own families to ensure that we have similar values and that the children will mesh well 
  2. I’m able to set my rate according to the quality of food and equipment that I provide.  We eat fresh fruit and whole grains, for example, and play with high quality toys (although as all providers can attest to, kids seem to gravitate towards Happy Meal trinkets moments before parents arrive for pick-up, without fail!  I trust they notice the natural wood, toxic free building blocks in the background!)

If you are considering opening a daycare in your home, the Ottawa Child Care Providers Resource Network (CCPRN) offers a wide range of workshops and resources to help you get started.  I was truly inspired by dedication, devotion, and professionalism by many of the private home daycare providers I came into contact with, and commend the CCPRN on the service that they provide.

If you are looking for a daycare, the CCPRN also provides resources to help you find, select, and evaluate the quality of private home daycares.  After all, one of the benefits of choosing to go the private route is the responsibility and privilege of monitoring the quality of your children’s care environment.  This is one factor that was missing from the CBC marketplace piece last week.  In my experience, most parents are actively involved in a relationship with their daycare providers – they communicate on a daily basis and are in the home during drop-off, pick-up.   They make their own decisions.

Proof that my current daycare families make wise decisions?  I’ve never once heard about them returning to a restaurant after being food poisoned, plus they all have great haircuts!

*calculations based on 2.5 years of full time daycare, 10 hours per day, 5 days per week for 50 weeks per year **calculations based on 9.5 years of before/after school daycare 3 hours per day for 200 school days per year *** calculations based on adding another 10 weeks of full time care, 10 hours/day to the before/after school calculation



Category: Family, Kids

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  1. Alison says:

    What a great response Christa. I used home based care for my daughter and found them through the CCPRN. We interviewed places that didn’t fit with our parenting approach, but I never met with a provider that didn’t seem to enjoy working with children or who I felt would be negligent.

  2. kathy downey says:

    Those are all the right reasons !

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