The inevitable daycare post.

So, the daycare post.

Daycare around here is…an adventure, to say the least. There are a lot of two-working-parent families, so there’s a lot of need, but the state requirements (for the state we live in, in this multi-state area) are pretty stringent for infant care, so there’s not a lot of supply. That means wait lists at pretty much every day care center anywhere near where we live, and pretty high prices.

As soon as we had confirmation that I was, in fact, pregnant, we got on the wait list at the daycare center at Mr. D’s office. We figured we’d have the best shot getting in there because he works there and we thought it would be better to have daycare near one of our offices so that the nearby parent could deal with emergencies.

We’ve since rethought that. We’re not getting off the waitlist, of course! That would be…ridiculous. But Mr. D. works way outside the city, not particularly close to our home or to where (we think) our pediatrician will be, and his office is only accessible by car. Of which we have one. Which he drives.

So we’ve also looked at daycares in our neighborhood. And a month or so ago, I thought I’d hit the jackpot — there’s a small daycare center about a mile from our house that is highly reviewed on the neighborhood listserv, is reasonably priced (which is to say, barely affordable instead of outrageously expensive), and when I called, the assistant director assured me there was no wait list for infants for next spring and that we had a spot. Hallelujah! We scheduled a tour for a couple of weeks after that and…discovered that there is a wait list. We are first on the wait list, but because the center is so small, there’s really no way of knowing if there will be a space for us in March or April. And since we went on our tour, I have not been able to get in touch with the assistant director. She doesn’t return my emails and I haven’t been able to get her on the phone. To say the least, I am no longer feeling all that good about this daycare.

Of course, we still need daycare, and now we’re a few months closer to when we’ll need it than we were when we started this whole process. So I’ve started looking at the other options — a nanny (out of our price range), a nanny share (possibly out of our price range and difficult to figure out logistically), or in-home daycare.

Turns out there are a lot of in-home daycares in our area. I am personally OK with an in-home daycare, possibly because for many years, I went to one (though it was more afterschool and summer care than true daycare). Mr. D. is not. I am thinking he is going to have to be OK with in-home daycare because we are frankly running out of options. There are a few other daycare centers in our area, but all of them have very long waitlists and most of them are quite expensive. In contrast, there are several in-home daycares available (at least one within WALKING DISTANCE of our house) and of the ones I’ve contacted, all of them have room for an infant in March or April. And they are affordable.

So I think we’re going to be visiting some in-home daycares soon.

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6 Responses

  1. We had our older son in a home daycare for a year and a half when he was a baby, and I thought it was a great environment for an infant. I prefer it to a center, in fact, even though our younger son will be going to a center for the convenience of having two kids in the same place.

  2. I go back and forth on what I prefer. I don’t think I’d want to use a home daycare once we have a toddler — I think there’s more social interaction and more opportunity for early education in a center (depending on the center, I suppose) — but I definitely think a home daycare is a great option while the baby is a baby.

    Mr. D. didn’t ever go to daycare (I did) so I think he has some biases based on that, biases I don’t have. In fact, if anything I am probably biased against centers — I hated the center I went to when I was younger, and loved the home daycare I went to after school and in the summers.

    In the end, our preferences probably aren’t really going to matter — I don’t think we’re going to get an infant spot in a center, and I really don’t think we can afford a nanny or a nanny share, so I think home daycare is what we’ll end up with. Luckily, it’s still early to be looking at home daycares, so I think we’re in a good position to find one we’re really comfortable with.

  3. FWIW, P had a nanny for a few months, then (finally, after we had a spot!) started daycare at the federal agency where M works. It was fabulous. He got to spend so much time with her throughout the day and was really a part of her early education. The daycare itself was dysfunctional (the woman who ran the place is nuts) but the teachers were good. So from 8 months until 3 (when I pulled her out) she was with the same group of kids, all of whom were children of people working at the same federal agency (including one who was the offspring of M’s archnemesis at work – quite droll, that).

    Now she’s at a place which is affiliated with the local medical school & hospital, and we’re only two days in (so I can hardly give you a recommendation about it) but I like it. For her development’s sake, I like having her around bright kids.

    As someone who has sued daycares on behalf of sex abuse victims, the other benefit to a center is an insurance policy if – heaven forbid – anything went wrong. Not much remedy available for any injury when it comes to a homeowner’s policy, which may have specific exclusions for a business operated in the home and any type of sex abuse or other intentional tort. (It is possible to get around that by pleading negligence, but that is entirely a different story.)

  4. PS: never underestimate the wait time. I went on a waiting list when we found out I was pregnant the first time (I think around April 2006). P was pregnancy #2. The spot for P didn’t actually open up until February 2008.

  5. Unfortunately, EH, Mr. D.’s agency is 35 miles outside the city, in the opposite direction of my office and (obviously) not close to our house. While I like the idea of having our kid in daycare close to one of us, I am less comfortable with having our kid in daycare so far from our house, our doctors, etc. And Mr. D.’s job doesn’t permit teleworking or any other kind of flexible work arrangement, so that would also have a pretty big effect on how workable it would be. There are traffic issues, also.

    You make a good point about insurance — that will go on my list of questions for providers. Additional insurance one thing a nanny share almost certainly wouldn’t have.

  6. We have the same situation where we work in opposite directions from our home. There’s a Bright Horizons right next door to my office and I would LOVE to have X in there, despite the expense… except then I’d be solely responsible for pickup and dropoff, and with my schedule that just doesn’t work.

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