On Your Side: 5 must dos in choosing a child care facility | News

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On Your Side: 5 must dos in choosing a child care facility

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are some things you can buzz through in life, but when it comes to finding the right child care facility, it is a process.

"All day care is high, but you got to do it," said Anthony DeJesus.

DeJesus, a 27-year-old single parent, said it was "hard work" finding the right child care center for his 13-month-old son.

"I did research on things; I checked them out," he said.

DeJesus found what he was looking for at Island View Baptist.

"They're teaching my son a lot," he said.

Child care experts say too many parents choose a child care facility based on price and location

"For new parents, it is a scary decision," said Teresa Matheny.

Matheny is a senior vice president with Episcopal Children Services, a nonprofit agency.

"If you haven't chosen a child care before, how would you know what to look for," she said.

Episcopal Children Services removes the guessing. It is a child care resource and referral service, free to any a parent.

"It is unfortunately too much of a well kept secret," she said.

Her agency considers needs, income and location before giving parents five referrals.

Parents are also encouraged to visit each facility.

"You want to know as a parent," said Matheny, "is it clean, is it safe, are you welcome there anytime of the day."

And part of the decision process should be the staff to children ratio.

"The lower the better," she said. "This is where your child is going to spend at least 10 hours a day."

Finally check with the Florida Department of Children and Families.   

"Had there been complaints," said Matheny, "How did they do on their last licensing."

DeJesus went through the process and says he's pleased with the results

"(It's) a clean environment, safe and they have nice toys," he said. "Everything is wonderful."

About 70 percent of parents will place their child in some type of daily care and cost, location and reputation will play a part in the decision.

These are five things you must do:

-Start looking early, as far in advance of your needs.

-Take advantage of the Child Care Resource and Referral agency Episcopal Children's Service (904-726-1500) and Early Learning Coalition of Duval (904-208-2044.)  

-Check the history of the facility with DCF.

-Visit the facility. Do it at different times of the day to see how the children and staff interact.

-Once you've made a choice, get involved. Have parent-caregiver meetings regularly and ask questions. 


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