Finding child care while on vacation or away from home can be somewhat...well, scary! How do you really know your kids will be taken care of properly and kept happy and safe? Numerous resorts and vacation hot spots offer child care services, but parents should really check out the facilities and staff qualifications before leaving kids at an unknown facility. Here are places to try and things to consider before dropping off your tots!
This is perhaps the easiest option, but only if there is an affiliate at the location you will be at. For temporary or part-time care, child records can often be faxed from your regular daycare to the location where you're headed and all registration forms completed ahead of time. Many large daycare centers such as La Petite Academy can accommodate an extra child due to vacation and arrange for special rates or services typically found at the regular location. Word of caution: a same or similar name may not always mean it is the same daycare company, so be sure to do your homework. If possible, go online to the main website and look over locations and then call and verify before you leave home.
Use your connections to seek out daycare "do's and don't's" ahead of time. After all, you don't hesitate in asking a friend about what they thought about a particular restaurant or hotel, so do the same with child care. Ask your child's regular caregiver for any ideas and ask whether she has connections to get additional input or ideas about options. Child care professionals often possess a vast professional resource and may know information you might never otherwise have been able to tap into!
A reputable concierge service should have a list of child care services that have met the approval of past patrons. Be sure to ask whether the listings you are given are just an accumulation of possibilities with no references or recommendations or whether they are ones that have been deemed as highly qualified or reputable services by parents and child care professionals. And, yes, there is a huge difference! Many hotels also offer onsite child care or evening babysitting; parents should check out the details in advance of the stay to know what is offered and at least have a pretty good inclination about whether the kid clubs are right for their families. Don't hesitate in asking to talk to staff directly before your stay for Q&A time.
A growing number of communities are seeing drop-in child care centers, and the convenience and hours can provide parents with another child care alternative. But rather than waiting until you're absolutely desperate for child care, search for drop-in care ahead of time. If you like what you read and see about a drop-in facility, the next step should be to get the center to fax over registration forms so that you can have them completed. Once you arrive at your destination, make an unscheduled stop into the prospective facility and check out the premises first-hand BEFORE you require child care. Only after you are armed with information and are comfortable with the facility should you consider leaving your youngster there.
Seemingly endless information exists on the internet for helping to make the hunt for child care easier. Many websites have been created with resources and tools for parents, so why not use their efforts to help check up on their research? Some of these sites enable you to enter in your city and even area and a search reveals of listing of child care places that can give you a running start in choosing the care that's right for your family.
If you're not overly impressed about care options at the hotel or resort, consider checking out family child care options that are certain to be available nearby. In-home child care is often available near major resort areas as another option, including for employees' children at the place you are staying. Be sure to check everything out thoroughly and then use your personal sense of comfort before making a final decision.
Different countries may have different qualifications and required training or certification of child care facilities. Don't assume the standards are like yours back home. Ask! A willing college-age student "who loves kids" may be adorable, yet may not possess CPR or first-aid training and unable to manage an out-of-control kid. What type of training does the staff have? Who is in charge? Who oversees the facility--especially if it is an on-site child care center at a hotel? Consider observing while your child is there before leaving.
Visitors' bureaus are created to help ensure that tourists have a great time and positive experience while in the area, and child care is something more centers have information about. Don't expect them to offer referrals or recommendations; usually they provide a listing of places to check that are nearby or offer attractive hours or rates. Their interest is to make you happy so you'll tell others about your visit!
Ask about safety procedures regarding how kids are signed in and what is required for them to leave with an adult. You may find that security is lax at several vacation resorts, often requiring nothing more than a parent signing a sheet of paper when they leave. That's not exactly a secure policy to prevent child theft. Is the facility itself safe with plugs covered, kid furniture secured, heavy televisions, etc., bracketed, and cleaning supplies kept locked up in another room? Is there any way a kid could exit unknown or is the entrance/exit secured? How are diapers changed? As tempting as it may be to drop your kids off for a few hours of adult time on the beach, you want to make sure you return with your kids happy and safe.
Free on-site child care may sound great, but not if you get there and it is literally dozens of screaming kids of assorted ages with one or two staff members. Find out if only a certain number of kids are accepted, what their adult-child ratio practice is, whether kids must be potty trained, whether there is a "sick kid policy" (you don't want your child catching something from another one while on vacation or out of town), and how parents are contacted in the event of a problem or emergency. Most any facility should have a set of written rules or procedures, and if not, then run!