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Choosing child care during a pandemic

As offices and schools reopen, there's still uncertainty over what parents can expect this year. Experts say finding stable child care is a must.

HOLLAND, Ohio — After a year and a half of managing the mental load of child care, education and activities for kids, parents are exhausted.

As offices and schools reopen, there's still uncertainty over what parents can expect this year. So experts say finding stable child care is a must.

"I want to assure the parents that every child that walks through this door, becomes our baby," says Camille Harris, owner of All 4 Kids LLC in Holland, Ohio.

Harris has been a child care provider for two decades. After a family tragedy, she says it became her life's purpose to care for and protect children. "When my son was 8 months old, he went to a center and was beaten," says Harris.

Harris says she's noticed an increase in parents seeking childcare lately as people head back to the office, or stay remote. "There's still a lot of parents working from home, but it's hard to work from home and take care of kids also," says Harris.

So how do you find a child care provider you trust, who meets your family's individual needs?

A new OnePoll survey of 2,000 school-aged parents found nearly half, 45%, don’t even know where to look when it comes to planning child care.

"Every family's child care needs are different, they're very unique," says Jada Rashawn. She's been a professional nanny for just over a decade. 

She says families need to talk about what their needs are and have a plan. 

"That's going to require having really good conversations with potential caregivers that are coming into the home and asking the right questions," says Rashawn. "And making sure you are interviewing properly and going into the right direction to navigate the best solution for your family."

So what questions should you ask? First, Harris says to find out if the child care provider is licensed and registered with the state. Look up the center's rating under Ohio's Step up to Quality program.

Also, ask what the staff-to-child ratio is. "Small group activities, where that environment will help the children to learn and be able to retain the information that's being presented to them," says Harris.

Harris also says during these times, see what child care providers are doing to practice safe hygiene and trust the feeling you get when you visit. She says, "I always say meet your families with smiling faces."

There are online tools you can use like care.com. Rashawn recommends sittercity.com to help you figure out exactly what you need out of child care. 

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