San Diego Moms: How to Find a Good Child Care Provider

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If you’re active in these moms groups on Facebook, you’ve probably read plenty of horror stories about the area’s childcare providers. More recently, in a group I am part of, a mother shared that her child was in a home daycare where the owner of the daycare often worked in a bathrobe! Some experiences are scarier – with stories of abuse, inadequate conditions and more. My heart breaks when I read these stories. I was lucky enough to have my children at a wonderful provider in San Marcos (thanks to the Center for Children and Families!), but I sympathize with other parents.

I contacted Alessandra Lezama, CEO of TOOTRISa San Diego-based company that reviews child care providers and then connects parents with them, who offered lots of helpful tips on what to look for in providers, what questions you should pose and how to spot red flags.

“Finding the right child care program is the most important thing a parent can do for their child,” Lezama said. “Take your time, compare and contrast, then make the right decision.”

Checklist from your child care provider

Here’s what Lezama said you should consider when looking for a supplier:

  • Availability – Do they have it? What are their opening hours and days? Are they on a fixed schedule or do they allow walk-in coverage?
  • Type of provider – Is it a commercial child care program or a family home child care program?
  • Cost – Do they accept grants for those who qualify? Do they accept daycare employee benefit programs?
  • State licensing information and background – check past violations and why.
  • What kind of program or curriculum do they have? – Montessori? Based on the game?
  • What are their COVID-19 practices? Do they suggest that children/parents/teachers be vaccinated?
  • Do parents have to pack diapers and/or meals, or does the provider offer them? If that’s true, what are they?

Questions to Ask Directors or Owners

  • In today’s digital landscape, we are seeing more and more parents interested in using apps that allow child care providers to send text messages and photos throughout the day. Does the custodial provider you are considering have a communication app?
  • What is the staff to child ratio?
    What is the late pick up policy? Some providers charge per minute for late withdrawals.
  • How do they discipline the children?
    Do you provide pick up and drop off before or after treatment? (for older children)
  • Do you work with local school districts for buses? (for older children)

Questions to ask teachers and staff:

  • What are your origins? Where does your passion for childcare come from?
  • Do you have a daily routine? What does it look like?
  • How often can I expect to communicate with you and how?
  • How do you discipline?
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • What do you do to touch a child’s heart and gain their trust?
  • What makes your program special and unique, why would enrolling my child in your program be the best decision I can make?
  • Each child goes through stages at a different pace. How do you measure development progress?

red flags

First, Lezama said parents should consider getting recommendations from other parents they know and trust. Parents should also engage their children by asking them about their school days.

“Keep an eye out for diaper rash to make sure diaper changes are happening frequently, and if you notice any bruises or cuts, make sure the provider lets you know how it happened and why,” said Lezama. “You shouldn’t have to ask.”

At my children’s daycare/preschool, we get a written report if the child hurts himself or another child (you have to like the toddler hitting). There have been times when my child has had a serious fall and I received a call immediately followed by a report at pick up.

Other red flags you may see are related to the state licensing group. In California, the Department of Social Services is responsible for licensing and publicly shares any reports or citations an approved vendor receives.

Lezama said it was important to understand the difference between the quotes.

“When you look at a program’s state licensing information, there may be Type A or Type B citations,” she said. “Type A are serious violations with an immediate health risk, which include “lack of supervision, access to hazardous chemicals, access to open bodies of water, etc. “, while Type B is generally more clerical and less serious. Examples of Type B citation would include poor medical record keeping or lack of adequate staff training. Type B violations are generally easy to correct.

How TOOTRiS can help your childcare search

TOOTRiS has helped many parents (and I personally love that it’s in San Diego) find legit child care providers. For starters, the TOOTRiS platform publishes a link to each vendor’s license directly from their TOOTRiS profile so parents can easily see the citations and whether they’ve fixed these issues since the initial report.

It’s also easy to find reputable child care providers near you. Parents can type in their city and see all of the approved providers in their area, and how many openings each program currently has without needing to pick up a phone to call. You can choose from 100 filters such as spoken languages, dietary requirements, religious preferences, etc.

Finally, Lezama recommends starting your search for a child care provider at least six months in advance.

Last words

As a mother of two and a former investigative journalist, I strongly recommend that you thoroughly research every employee who works with your child at the company. I also recommend that you ask lots of questions during pickup and communicate any issues with the provider at that time. Finding a trusted child care provider can be difficult, but if you’re active in communication, it can make all the difference.

San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Do you have a story idea? Email and follow her on Instagram at @hoawritessd.


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