3 Ways to Explore
Child Care
How to Find the Right Child-Care Facility
One of the most important decisions parents can make is selecting the most appropriate care solution for their young children, especially if both parents want to or have to work. Families relocating to Las Vegas will be pleased to know about the many choices available to them in the area. The following chapter provides information on the various types of child-care facilities available in the area, including learning about family child care and nannies; understanding how to make an educated and informed decision about selecting the right facility; and exploring the kinds of activities that are most suitable for your child.

In Las Vegas, a child-care license is required for all persons providing care to children in child-care centers, nurseries, preschools and family and group-care homes. All applications are reviewed by the Child Care Licensing Agency (
www.daycare.com/nevada) and the Las Vegas City Council prior to approval.

DEFINING CHILD-CARE TERMS
As you research this topic, you’ll find that facilities can be described in the following ways.

Child-care centers are also known as nursery schools or preschools. Because these facilities are usually open early, they provide working parents with a dependable and practical setting in which to leave their children during the day. Many parents select this option because they want their children to be socialized with othe
r children and to be taken care of by multiple caregivers. Child-care centers also provide more standardized programs, which can be important to parents. In researching Las Vegas Valley resources, you’ll find independent centers and nonprofit centers run by churches, universities or the community as well as franchised operations.

Family child-care facilities provide care services for children in the provider’s home. Typically, the caregiver also takes care of her own children at the same time. Nevada regulates family child care and mandates that only four of the children may be less than two years of age and only two of the children may be less than one year of age. Parents may select this option because they prefer a single caregiver, the facility is closer to home or work and it may be more affordable. The children may prefer the smaller setting in which they feel more secure because it’s more like their own home.

In-home caregivers also are called babysitters, nannies or housekeepers, and they take care of and watch a child in his or her own home. This is a choice among parents who believe their children not only will be more comfortable but safer and more secure under their own roof. With child care in the home, parents can be more aware of the interaction between the caregiver and the child, and it’s certainly more convenient. It’s also an option for children who have special needs.

The term kith and kin usually refers to child-care services provided by a family or extended-family member, such as a relative, friend or neighbor. Typically in this type of care, the child is taken care of in the caregiver’s or the child’s own home. It should be noted that many states do not regulate the care provided by relatives, friends and neighbors. In Nevada, if a person who is not a parent, grandparent or guardian cares for even one child within the state, that person must be a licensed child-care provider. For many parents, this option is ideal because the child is provided with a familiar, loving caregiver who is trusted by the parents and makes the child feel secure. A family member or close friend or neighbor also may be more likely to share the same values, which underscores a high level of trust. Often this type of caregiver previously has an established relationship with the child, which also makes the transition less distressing for all parties involved.

Sometimes parents use the kith and kin care option because their schedules, budgets or transportation problems limit their access to other child-care options. Parents who use this kind of care often consider themselves lucky to have a relative, friend or neighbor care for their children, especially when flexibility is needed. When weighing this option, one must consider how important peer socialization and a structured learning environment are to their child. Each child-care option may be better suited for some children than others so the decision is best made with this in mind. Perhaps a combination of care-giving selections will meet your and your child’s needs.

To find out more about all of the options and services available to you in the Las Vegas area, contact the city of Las Vegas’ child-care license division at (702) 229-6281. For starters, consider asking about the following:
  • A list of licensed child-care providers at a minimal cost
  • Information on the license status, any complaints and all inspection records for all licensed child-care facilities
  • Filing any complaints against a licensed child-care establishment
  • Reporting an unlicensed establishment inside city limits
  • Checking if a business is licensed

The state of Nevada mandates that all-day child-care centers post menus and notify parents of communicable diseases. All facilities must meet the minimum standards established for the protection of the children receiving care. Licensed daycare centers in Las Vegas must have annual fire marshal inspections and monthly fire drills. Full-time employees must be certified in CPR and First Aid.

For help in selecting a safe and healthy child-care setting, visit Child Care Aware at www.childcareaware.org or call (800) 424-2246. Also check the National Child Care Information Center (NCCIC) website at www.nccic.org.

TOOLKIT FOR FINDING THE RIGHT CHILD-CARE FACILITY
When preparing for your search for the right child-care facility, compile a list of items to observe and questions to ask for each facility that you tour. When making the final selection, your comments will help you remember aspects of each. Here is a sample list to help your efforts.

— Health and Safety Factors
  • Observe cleanliness of the center as well as the diaper-changing and hand-washing procedures.
  • Ask about security of medicines and chemicals in the facility.
  • Ask if the caregivers are certified in CPR and First Aid.
  • Ask about the meal and naptime routines.
  • Ask about transportation procedures if children are taken on field trips.
  • Ask about discipline procedures when children act out or break classroom rules and how positive behavior is encouraged.
  • Observe indoor and outdoor play areas and safety precautions used by staff.

— Activities
  • Ask about planned activities and observe equipment, toys and materials.
  • Ask if the children are read to daily and look for the quality and quantity of books in each room.
  • Ask about the amount of time spent each day on the playground (30–45 minutes in the morning and afternoon is recommended).
  • Ask about the use of technology (e.g., TV, VCR, computers) in the facility, recognizing that limited use is recommended for young children.

— Quality Factors
  • Remember that consistent, positive relationships with caring adults will allow your child to grow, develop and learn.
  • Observe whether the caregivers are warm and caring and enjoy their work.
  • Ask if the program is accredited or certified by a recognized respectable agency, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (www.naeyc.org), with higher requirements than minimum child-care licensing standards.
  • Ask about the experience, education and regular training of the caregivers.
  • Ask about the number of children assigned to each caregiver and the number of children in each room so you can understand the opportunities for individual attention.

— Parent Involvement
  • Ask if parents are welcome to visit and how they are encouraged to participate.
  • Ask how and how often the caregivers will communicate with you about your child’s progress or behavior.

HIRING A NANNY
According to the International Nanny Association (INA) (www.nanny.org), you can look for a nanny in many places, including help wanted ads in newspapers and magazines, bulletin boards and referrals from friends. These approaches can be time-consuming and also can result in negative experiences. The INA suggests that you contact nanny-training programs about the availability of their graduates or that you take advantage of the services offered by nanny-placement agencies.

A placement agency is a service company that matches the skills and qualifications of nannies with the needs of families looking for in-home child-care. The agency charges a fee to locate and screen nannies for you to consider hiring for your family. A reputable agency carefully will consider your needs and preferences when helping you find a suitable candidate. Placement fees range from $800 to $5,000 and should include a provision to replace the nanny or refund a portion of the fee if the placement does not work out within a certain period of time.

As part of its screening process, the agency should verify the nanny candidate’s personal and employment references and previous child-care experience. Many agencies also take nanny fingerprints, check for a criminal records, check the driving records and require a blood test, TB test and/or request a doctor’s statement that the candidate is in good health and free of contagious diseases. Some agencies also require psychological testing or evaluation. In the United States, the agency should verify that the candidate is an American citizen or is eligible to work legally in the country.

Just as the agency will want to ensure that nannies referred to you are suitable candidates, for the nanny’s protection, the agency also may ask you for references. Most agencies will assist you in preparing a job description that summarizes your family’s job duties, compensation package and other important considerations.

Many placement-agency owners are members of INA, which suggests that you select an INA member if you decide to use a placement agency’s services to help you locate a nanny.

FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN
According to the most recent data from the Clark County School District, there are more than 11,000 full-day kindergarten students enrolled in their schools. The results from a full-day/extended-day longitudinal kindergarten study indicated that full-day kindergarten contributed to closing the achievement gap.

Full-day kindergarten is not expressly required or prohibited by statute in Nevada. Districts may offer full-day kindergarten, but children are not required to attend. Nevada provides the same level of funding for both half-day and full-day kindergarten. The state does not define the minimum number of hours for full-day kindergarten, and it provides less funding for half-day and full-day kindergarten than for Grades 1–12. For more information on early childhood programs, visit the Nevada Department of Education at www.doe.nv.gov.

ASSESSING A CHILD-CARE FACILITY
When choosing a preschool program for your child, it’s important to consider characteristics of your child, the program, the preschool staff and the program’s physical environment. Following are a few guidelines from NAEYC.

— Characteristics of the Child
Some children are more comfortable in large groups than others and will do well in large programs. On the other hand, if your child takes a long time to warm up in a crowd, you may want to look for a small-scale preschool program. If your child seems especially fond of vigorous physical activities and outdoor play, you may want to ensure that the preschool provides good outdoor space and equipment.

— Characteristics of the Program
It is always a good idea to make preliminary visits to as many preschool programs as possible before making a choice. The friendliness among the staff and the children usually indicates that climate in the program is good. Children in a good program usually are not distracted by visitors and continue to be absorbed in their work and play. Give yourself time to get a feeling of the general atmosphere of the classroom and the extent to which children appear comfortable and involved.

Questions you can ask about components of the program include the following:
  • Does the program have a clear written statement of its goals and philosophy?
  • Do the goals address all areas of child development, including social, emotional, intellectual and physical?
  • Does the program offer a balance of individual, small- and large-group activities?
  • Does it offer a balance of spontaneous play and teacher-guided activities?
  • Are children provided with regular opportunities for outdoor play?
  • Do the provided activities encourage self-expression; allow for the development of various fine and large motor skills; and expose the children to literature, language experiences, music, art, science and nature?
  • Does the program encourage and respond to children’s spontaneous interests in the beginnings of reading, writing and counting?
  • Does the staff solicit and follow up on children’s interests in the world around them?
  • Does the content and materials of the program reflect cultural diversity and nonsexist attitudes?
  • Is there a balance among small-group activities, rest and quiet periods and vigorous outdoor activities?

— Characteristics of the Staff
Following are questions to ask about the program staff:
  • Are the teachers trained in early childhood education?
  • Does the director have experience as a teacher?
  • Does the ratio of adults to children comply with state requirements?
  • Has the staff been stable for the past few years?
  • Does the staff welcome parents as visitors and participants and respect parents’ preferences and ideas?
  • In their interactions with children, do the teachers express warmth, interest and respect for each child?
  • Are the teachers engaged with the children most of the time?

— Characteristics of the Physical Environment
Questions to ask about the physical setting include the following:
  • Is there an attractive and spacious outdoor area for safe and vigorous outdoor play and activity?
  • Is there a sufficient supply of equipment for the size of the group?
  • Are the children always supervised when outdoors?
  • Are the snacks and meals of sufficient nutritional quality?
  • Do the classrooms contain a variety of spaces so children can find small quiet areas when needed?

Studies suggest that preschool settings are more likely to offer high-quality programs when the total number of children is small enough to allow staff to know all the children and their families. Whenever possible, it is helpful to speak to other parents served by the program about their experience and recommendations.

Every family’s situation and needs are different when considering child care, but rest assured that there is any option right for you in Las Vegas.
 
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