LA CROSSE, WI - While you can never guarantee complete safety for your child, there are some steps parents can take when researching different in-home day care options to make sure they've found a good child care service.
Opening an in-home day care was a bit more difficult than Sara Hansen expected.
"It took a lot, actually. I didn't really know what I was getting into," said Hansen.
Hansen's day care Busy Bees, is certified by the county through the Parenting Place, in La Crosse.21725040
But staff at the Parenting Place say many in-home day cares never go through the certification or licensing processes, which is why it's extremely important parents know what questions to ask and what to look for when shopping for a day care.
"We provide a form to our parents, and it does provide information on what to look for, including a checklist they can go through with the provider as they visit," said Parenting Place early care and education director Audra Wieser.
One of the best places to start is to make sure the day care provider is certified or licensed with the county or state.
"That way, you can make sure they've gone through the minimum health and safety standards and that there's a regulator visiting the program at a regular interval," said Wieser.
The certification also makes sure the staff and everyone living at the home has gone through background checks.
"Asking for references from the provider so they can talk to other parents that can utilize that care is recommended," said Wieser.
And while it took a lot of work, Hansen said that as a parent herself, making sure she's certified is a must.
"I think it's very important; it actually let's the parent have that peace of mind that, 'I've been through all this training and there's people watching over me,' and [they know that] their children are in safe hands," said Hansen.
Parenting Place staff also recommend making sure you know how many children are at the in-home day care, because there are limits on that, as well.
It's also a good idea to make unannounced visits so you know what's going on when you're not there.
You can get more information on which in-home child care services are certified or licensed in Wisconsin by visiting: http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/childcare/licensed/
You can also contact the Parenting Place for help navigating all the options at 608-784-8125.
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