Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A. | 4/19/2005 10:28:28 PM
One of the most popular child-care choices today is the family child-care provider, according to LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe, who says this option can have its advantages.
"Today’s work force is comprised of nearly 40 percent women, so with that many women working, there is great demand for child care," Gioe says. "This demand has increased the number of children who must attend child care daily."
One of the options for that care is a "family child-care provider," Gioe says.
"A family child-care provider is an individual who cares for up to a maximum of six children in his or her home," the LSU AgCenter expert explains, stressing that any children or grandchildren being cared for in the home are counted in that maximum of six.
Gioe says family child care has many benefits, some of which are:
–Children are kept in a setting that may be homelike.
–Generally, family child-care providers care for a smaller number of children than you find in other child-care settings.
–Family child care tends to be less expensive.
–Many family providers provide home-cooked, hot meals at lunch time.
In Louisiana, family child-care providers are not mandated to become licensed or even registered as providers of child care. But legislation recently was passed requiring those who are registered family child-care providers to attend 12 hours of child-care training in order to maintain their registered status, remain eligible for federal payments for child care and to participate in the federal food program.
Some of the characteristics parents should look for when choosing a family child care provider are:
–The provider’s interactions with children are sincere and appropriate.
–Parents should be encouraged to visit at any time.
–The home should be inviting and safe for children to explore.
–Children should have a space for their personal belongings.
–Children should have opportunities to play independently and with other children.
–The care provider should interact with the children.
–Television viewing should be limited.
–The care provider should have a curriculum planned for children that is age and developmentally appropriate.
–The care provider should have a fenced space outdoors where children may place safely. In addition, children should go outside two to three times a day and participate in planned activities outdoors.
–Care providers should be trained in pediatric first aid and CPR.
–Nutritious meals and snacks should be served very 2½ to 3 hours each day.
–Care providers should supply families with handbooks outlining policies and procedures, and they should maintain records on each family and each child. Even more, care providers should enter into a written agreement of care with the families.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.