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Help out there to make right childcare choice

There are benefits to both home-based and group care

May is Childcare Month in B.C., so the following information might be helpful for parents that are looking for childcare.

For many parents, making the decision to return to work is not as difficult as deciding the right care situation for their child. If you have decided against a nanny and grandma is not available, here are the most popular options.

Childcares with more than two children are inspected and facilities are licensed by the provincial health authority, while childcares with two or less children are not regulated.

Licensed childcares can be home based or can be larger group facilities that are often located in churches, schools or rented spaces.

There are advantages to both and parents should familiarize themselves with what each offers.

A family childcare operator is an early learning caregiver that operates the childcare from the home.

As with the centres, the health authority sets standards and constantly checks that a safe, stimulating, nurturing and healthy environment is offered to the children.

The caregiver's home is licensed, criminal record searches are done, and policies and procedures are in place, just as with the group centres.

The smaller number of children (seven to eight) in care can make transition from home to childcare easier on the child. Lower overhead and less staff means that parents' fees are usually less.

The majority of family childcares offer preschool type programs with music, science, reading, circle time, arts and crafts, preliminary math skills and lots of outdoor time as do some centres.

Group centres are licensed for a larger number of children and you will find various age groups within one centre. The staffing requirements are laid out by licensing. Staff members are required to be early childhood educators in good standing in the ECEBC registry.

There are many caregivers that interact with the children throughout the day and bonds are formed between the children and families.

Good centres offer enhanced learning opportunities for the children, with drama, arts, science and sports activities, in addition to preschool literacy and numeracy programs.

What should you look for in a childcare? Do you get a comfortable feeling when you enter? Is the caregiver engaging with the children? Are there lots of childappealing activities, books and toys?

What are the caregiver's thoughts on appropriate activities? How much time is devoted to outdoor play? Is the childcare in good repair? Do the discipline techniques and policy compare with your own?

Ask for references, and ask to see the last licensing inspection report.

There are many resources available to help in your search. Childcare Options has a list of caregivers available at 604-572-8032.

The Fraser Health website lists caregivers in your area and makes inspection reports available online.

The Vancouver Sun's daycare ratings, using Licensing's database, are available at Vancouversun. com/care. The South Delta Childcare Connections has a list of caregivers in the South Delta area at 604317-6187.

Shirley Jutras is the owner/operator of Beach Club for Kids Family Childcare and is chairperson of South Delta Childcare Connections.

Rhonda Aird is owner of Kidzone Children Centre.