When you return to school or work after having a baby, you will need to figure out who will take care of your baby while you are gone. You want to make sure that your baby is well cared for. Deciding who will take care of your baby is a very important decision, and the most obvious or easiest choice is not always the best one for your baby.
What Are My Child Care Options?
There are a lot of child care options, and each option comes with its own pros and cons. The options range from large child care centers to small, family-like settings, to making an agreement with a relative or friend. Some communities also have free Early Head Start programs for teen parents that help from before birth to age 3. It’s important to choose the child care that works best for your family and meets your baby’s needs.
How Do I Find the Right Child Care?
To find a child care provider anywhere in Washington, go to Child Care Aware of Washington
If you have chosen a relative or friend as an informal caregiver, it’s smart to write up a contract that establishes ground rules. That way everything is clear. This will help you avoid problems and address problems if they do come up.
Check out these websites to help you choose the best child care provider for you:
“At my childcare I love the people, they have been working there for a long time and are so loving towards all the babies. It makes me so happy to know my baby is in good hands.”
– 16 year old mom, Franklin County
Additionally, here are some other important things to think about when choosing a child care provider, even if it is someone you know very well:
- Are the staff and other children immunized? Immunizations protect you and your child from preventable diseases. Read more here.
- Is the home or day care center free of mold and other harmful substances like secondhand smoke? Read more here.
How Do I Pay for Child Care?
Help is out there! You are not the only one trying to figure out how to do this. Washington State has a program called Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) that helps low-income families pay for child care. To apply for WCCC, call the DSHS Customer Service Center at 1-877-501-2233 (Monday–Friday 8am–5pm). Before you call, make sure that you’ve decided on your child care provider and you have a schedule of times when you’ll need child care.
“This program has helped me by making child care attainable by lowering the cost.
It’s now possible for me to go to school full time and graduate.”
-18 year old mom, Clark County
If you live in Seattle and don’t qualify for Working Connections Child Care, check out the Child Care Payment Assistance Program online or call 206-386-1050.
If you live in Bellevue, Redmond, or Kent, check out the Child Care Resources Financial Assistance Program or call 206-329-1011 ext. 267.
If you have questions about child care, ask the experts!
Talk to someone who will work through your questions with you. Call Child Care Aware of Washington at 1-800-446-1114.
What's My Backup Plan?
Occasionally, your normal child care may fall through. Most likely this will be a temporary problem. Maybe either your child or child care provider got sick. Have a backup plan figured out in advance so you don’t get stressed out when you have to rearrange things at the last minute. Most backup options fall into two main categories: find someone else to care for your child, or stay home yourself.
How Can I Find a Backup Person?
Once you have figured out who your main child care provider will be, ask if they have someone else lined up in case of emergency. If they do, ask to meet their backup person in advance to make sure you are comfortable with them. It is also a great idea to make your own backup list of people you can call in an emergency. Think about relatives and neighbors, and research your local babysitters, crisis nurseries, and sick child care options through the yellow pages or local hospitals.
Remember to always leave your caregiver with emergency contact numbers so they are prepared if anything comes up.
What if I Need to Stay Home Myself?
You may need to take the day off from work or school. You can use a sick/vacation day at work if you have them available, or talk to your boss about making up for the time later.
Take turns with your partner, a relative, or a neighbor. It may be easier to get a couple of hours off work and split the day between a couple of people. You can take a school project home, or work from home if you have that flexibility with your job. This may be a great solution if you can handle taking care of your sick child and getting your work done at the same time.
Child Care Aware of Washington helps you find child care in your community.
At Child Care Resources you can find child care in King County through a free online search.
The Homeless Child Care Program helps families who are homeless find and pay for
Read about various types of child care here.
Child Care Aware has a lot of information about child care for new parents.
Find an Early Head Start site in your community.