Moms First: Finding affordable child care

Looking for safe, affordable child care can be a struggle for many families.

A study done by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies says on average, it costs nearly $10,000 a year for full-time infant care here in Indiana, and in Michigan it costs about $8,000 a year.

Experts have advice for how to make sure you get quality care for that major of investment.

Mike Garatoni, president of Growing Kids Child Care Center in Mishawaka, says parents need to be informed when it comes to choosing the right facility.

“Look around. There are a lot of choices, and they are not all the same,” Garatoni said. “The licensing regulations are not consistent at all between centers and home ministries."

Garatoni says safety is the number one priority for which parents should look.

“How do they come in and come out? Is the building in a place that’s going to keep the kids secure? Do you have a human monitoring the door?” Garatoni said listing potential safety concerns.

"The greatest source of issues are the playground,” Garatoni said. “Do they have a playground that complies with the Consumer Product Safety Commission? Most places don't."

The National Association for the education of young children, or NAEYC, suggests finding out the teacher's emergency training and their qualifications.

”Has the provider done a background check? Has the provider done a drug screening? Believe it or not, most places don't require a drug screening,” Garatoni said. “A licensed center requires a drug screening.”

Cost can be a huge factor for families but the NAEYC says cheaper is not always better. Lastly, take a tour of the child care facility and feel free to ask questions.

“For mothers and dads, trust your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, maybe you can’t quite put it into words but trust your hunch and any questions that a parent has, there’s no question to silly to ask,” Garatoni said.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has launched a new website for parents to find quality child care right on their way to work, or any other destination.

Families can also find inspection reports and any actions that were taken against the child care provider as well.

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