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Friday, November 21, 2008

Cost of Day Care

For working parents, a form of day care is a reality when we have our little bundles of joy. It doesn't matter if our kids start at three months or a little later, when two parents or a single parent works it is something that parents have to research, get on a waiting list and pay out big bucks so their children are well taken care of while they are at work.

When I found out I was pregnant, I thought I had all the time in the world to find a day care. I was in no hurry. A then friend told me that the wait lists for day cares were quite long and I had to do my research NOW. I was only nine weeks pregnant at the time. I was thinking how baffling it was to search for a day care for a child that isn't born yet. It couldn't possibly be that hard to get in, but if you live in the Northern Virginia area, and have gone through this process, you know it is long and drawn out. After doing some research in school I wanted my child in, I signed up for a day care. I was not even into my second trimester when they told me that they believe they should have a space available when my child is three months old. I still was shell shocked about the long wait list. What if a pregnant Mom wasn't given the same advice I received? What if they waited up until their third trimester to find a day care? How could they possibly return to work with no one to watch their child? What if you just moved to the area and needed childcare immediately?

I choose the day care for my baby for four reasons. 1) The curriculum was great. Each day (even for the infants) the children had a schedule, a list of things they would do with the babies to help development and other motor skills. 2) The location. It obviously had to be convenient enough for my husband and I to do drop off and pick up. We both agreed that we did not want a place that was hard to get to. We knew we would be busy once our child entered the world, so why make it more strenuous on us? 3) The type of day care. Our day care is not fancy. I did not want an overly fancy day care, because that is just not us. Obviously the curriculum was important, but I didn't want to stress my child out on a daily basis in having to learn things that I knew was way beyond age appropriate. I found some schools didn't allow bibs at a toddler age or did flash card so they knew 100 different types of airplanes at the age of four. No, that wasn't for us. I wanted a day care that was loving, supportive of both the child and parents, and do the same type of things with my child if I was staying at home. Plus, they had an amazing playground. I know that it is silly, but my day care memories centered around the fact I had a great playground to play on. 4) The cost. I found through my research so many day cares that cost an arm and a leg! It wasn't that I didn't want the best for my child, but I also had to know that the cost was justified.

The cost of day care is crazy. You have yearly registration fees, materials fees and lets not forget those weekly fees! For my child to go to day care as an infant we shelled out $259 a week, which is $14,504 a year and this didn't include the other added fees! What is more surprising is that it was not bad if you consider some of the day care we looked into wanted to charge $350 a week plus all those other hidden cost. I saw no difference in the day cares other then you get to watch your child via the web with one, which was also out the way vs. the day care with a better playground and it was not located in an industrial business park. I choose the one with no web video. It was tempting, but I couldn't justify the cost.

At the end of the day parents do what is best for their family, their child. Some choose in home day cares, others choose family or friends to watch their child and some choose day care facilities. Unless you have free day care, all working parents can relate that the cost is high, but then what would we not do for our little ones?

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