A Closer Look at Large Family Child Care Homes Licensed for 12 or 14 Children (page 3)
In some ways, small family child care providers (those licensed to care for six or eight children) and large family child care providers (those licensed for 12 or 14 children) are very similar. Both are licensed by the State Dept. of Social Services and have to meet essentially the same health and safety standards. Both types of family child care providers work in their own homes, as opposed to a child care center. Our Handout, “Choosing Family Child Care,” should help you choose a small or large family child care program. But there are some important differences between the two programs which you should consider when looking at a home licensed for 12 or 14 children. This Handout is designed to highlight those differences.
The most crucial difference between small and large family child care homes is that, in most instances, the large family child care provider is required to hire a full-time assistant once she enrolls more than six children. This means a provider is not only running her own business, but she is also an employer with all the joys and woes associated with being a “boss.” Many providers make this transition with ease. For others, the change is more difficult. Here are some questions to ask when interviewing providers who operate large family child care homes:
How Many Children Are In Care?
Large family child care providers are licensed for 12 children and, under certain circumstances, they can care for up to 14 children. Therefore, a parent should ask a potential provider: “How many children do you care for at any one time – 12 or 14?” Providers who care for 12 children and decide to care for two more children must meet the following conditions:
- one of the 14 children must be at least six years old and another must be in Kindergarten or older;
- only three of the 14 children can be infants under the age of two years;
- the provider must notify all parents – including parents whose children are about to join the program – that she will be caring for the two additional children. This notice must be in writing and signed by each parent acknowledging receipt of the notice;
- if the provider rents or leases her home, she must obtain the written consent of the property owner or landlord.
How Long Has The Provider Been Licensed As A Large Family Child Care Home?
Providers who have large family child care licenses must have first been either a licensed provider caring for six or eight children for a full year or had comparable child care experience in a center or related setting. Find out from a prospective provider what she did before she got licensed to run a large family child care home. Was she a family child care provider for six or eight children? Was she the director or a teacher in a child care center? Does she have any experience as an employer? (Because most providers licensed for 12 or 14 have the same responsibilities as any other employer, experience as an employer counts.) How long the provider has held her large family child care license may also affect how smoothly the program runs.
How Do Provider And Assistant/s Work Together?
A large family child care provider can care for eight children without an assistant only if two of the children are schoolage (one has to be at least six years old and another must be in Kindergarten or older) and no more than two of the children are infants. In all other cases, an assistant is required if more than six children are in care. While you may like the licensed provider, you should also meet the assistant/s and see how everyone works together. Your child may well spend as much or more time with the assistant as s/he does with the provider. Find out if the two work with all the children in one large group, or if they divide the children into two smaller groups (or some combination of the two). If two groups are used for many activities, then find out which group your child would be in and which caregiver has primary responsibility for that group.
Other Considerations: Does the assistant have child care experience?
How long has he or she worked for the provider? Who substitutes for the provider or assistant if either one is ill or on vacation? It is crucial to verify by site visits and by talking to other parents whose children are in the program that the assistant is really there when s/he is required to be. Aside from the exception mentioned above, an assistant is absolutely required by the licensing regulations. If you learn that the provider or her assistant are frequently alone with all the children, you can assume that the regulations are not being followed. A ratio of nine or ten children to one adult (much less 14!) cannot result in quality care for your child.
How Big Is The Provider’s Home?
The building code determines, and the fire marshal monitors, the size of a home licensed as a large family child care home. In addition, every home licensed for 12 or 14 children needs to pass a fire inspection. However, you should also use your own judgment. Even the largest home is too small if only a few rooms are actually used for child care. Is the home set up so children engaged in quiet activities have space away from children involved in noisier ones? (Many times this is as much a factor of layout or space usage as it is of the number of rooms used for care.) Where do the children play outside? Is the yard large enough for all the children or do children go outside in shifts? (Shifts might be preferable to an overcrowded yard.) Is the yard fenced? (It doesn’t have to be, but if it isn’t, an adult must supervise the children at all times – two adults if more than eight children are outside at one time.)
How Does The Provider Plan For So Many Children?
How a provider uses the available space is as important as the size of the space itself. How are the everyday activities accomplished with 12 or 14 children in a home setting? Where and how do all the children eat lunches or snacks? Where do the children nap? Does each child have his/her own cot or mat? Is there enough space to accommodate children who need privacy to go to sleep? Does the provider have an isolation room where a sick child can wait to be picked up? A dozen or more children is a handful and, even in a very large house, wise use of space is an important consideration.
What Techniques Does The Provider Use To Assure One-To-One Contact?
How does the provider see to it that a child who needs individual attention at a particular time will actually get that attention? Some children thrive on being with many other children, but for others, it’s too much of a crowd. Everyone needs time alone sometime, or to be comforted. You will need to determine whether your child would fit in based on what the provider tells you about the program and what you see when you visit.
Reprinted with the permission of BANANAS, Inc. © 2007 BANANAS
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- First Grade Sight Words List