Q&A: Leaving daycare and finding good care in a new place

Elise writes:

"We're moving due to husband's job and overall, it's going to be really good for us. That being said, I'm having a dickens of a time finding a good day care. Child is 2 and in the Ritz Carlton of daycares. The place we're moving to is a smaller town. There are lots of daycares, but none so far have come close to the place we have now. I'm also pregnant with #2 due in November. So, lots of questions:

– how do I give up or accept that I won't find the diamond quality we have now?
– should we consider in-home care?
– should I move the 2 year old when he's 3 to an actual pre-school or find a daycare that provides pre-school to minimize him moving to different schools, etc.?
– how do I not cry every time I think about having to leave this awesome place?"

There's a lot going on in this email, so let's take it apart:

The first thing I'm seeing is the sadness at having to leave the awesome daycare. Even if there was an almost identical place in New Town, you'd still feel sad at having to leave this place, and that's normal and good. I'd think about how you're going to help your son to say goodbye to his caregivers and them to him, and how you're going to say goodbye. Also, figure out how to be able to keep in touch so he doesn't lose them completely.

Now, having talked about that, your first question is really a matter of framing. You love what you have now, and you can't find the same exact thing in New Town, but that doesn't mean you won't find something just as great in a totally different way. Different places have different configurations of daycare–in my hometown in-home care is the norm, but I didn't know anyone who did in-home care in my old neighborhood in NYC and so many people had nannies, which are unheard of for all but the super-rich in other places.

Basically, you need to figure out what's the standard where you're going and go with that. If in-home care (either a nanny or a home daycare) is what everyone does, then that's where you'll probably find the excellence in New Town. (And the question about moving him to preschool or keeping him in daycare is also location-dependent, IME, so you won't really know unless you can ask and find out what everyone else does.)

This IS going to work out. You are going to have to go through grieving the old place, though. AND you're going to have to grieve all the time and energy you spent learning the system to make the best choice in your current place just to have to repeat that same learning curve for New Town. Not fun, but you know more about what you needd this time around.

Does anyone have advice about what to look for in a home-based daycare or how you found a good nanny? (I found my two great nannies at church, so I've got nothing.)

46 thoughts on “Q&A: Leaving daycare and finding good care in a new place”

  1. This exact scenario happened to us.The new daycare seemed totally different at first – older building, in a church, smaller classes, worse food, different systems for things.
    But here’s the way it ended up being the same: it was filled with amazing caregivers. I could tell, because almost all of the people who work there have worked there for a long time – the director has been there forever, the teachers have been there for quite a while. It’s awesome. Yes, my kid eats pizza once a week, where at the other daycare she was getting (not joking) quiche. No, there are not separate music classes (but they do have music time every day). The teacher-kid ratio is small; the outside area is great (and they go outside every day); and my kid loves going there.
    We also used to have in-home daycare (our daughter went to a person’s house twice a week). The person was someone we knew extremely well through our church, who had two kids of their own, and their family became our family. I was uncomfortable with the idea of an organized in-home daycare, because I felt like the daycare center provided more routine, back up care when the teachers were ill, and I felt comfort in numbers – with so many adults around, it would be impossible for one of them to be neglecting (or worse) a child. If you have an in-home day care with really good personal references, I wouldn’t be so nervous, but we didn’t have that.
    if you have enough money, you might consider, especially after the second child, an aupair. It can be cheaper than multiple kids in daycare and more flexible. I have three close friends who have done it and all have had very good experiences. I couldn’t do it – I don’t want someone living in my house!

  2. Google for referrals. In my area, the county licenses all the day cares, both center and in-home and it’s a great place to start with a list that you can then shrink as you review the centers. My sis ran an in-home care (before I had kids) and I thought they were the WAY to go….until I had kids. Now I am sold on institutions and centers. It takes a village sometimes. Had to move my kids from the wonderful University pre-school where the boy spent 5 years and the girl spent 2 and it was HARD but turned out okay. They are at a different pre-school (with kindergarten) now and while it isn’t the Ritz, it has its charms. You will do fine. They will do fine. Allow yourself options. My quick plan would be to find the very best center you could find for now and worry about pre-school, etc later. You might find them in the same package, you might have to move them again, nevermind the eventual hell of looking for good infant care. Solve today’s problem today and give yourself the luxury of amending that solution later if need be.

  3. I’ve been in the OP’s exact situation – leaving a City with Great Daycare to move to a Smaller Town without that same level of high quality daycare centers and/or just fewer openings to choose from.My advice is to go the in-home sitter route, and just accept that Small Town daycare will probably not be a fit for you based on your prior experiences, even though, ironically, I bet if this were your first daycare experience you’d probably find Smaller Town’s offerings to be good enough; but the reality is that the awesomeness of your former daycare plus the array of choices in a larger city has fundamentally changed your expectations. Yep, I totally get that.
    We found our current regular sitter (aka “nanny,” a term I think only applies to babysitters who actually live in your home – I’m weird like that) via word of mouth in our small town. DH and I told literally everyone I met that we were hiring, and here’s what finally worked: I asked another mom who employs a full-time sitter how she found hers – and her sitter recommended her aunt to us, then we met her, and the rest is history.
    We also had one temporary sitter for about 6 months after we first moved to town who we found by putting an ad in the online classifieds section of a place that’s sort of affiliated with DH’s work – she was ok temporary sitter who at 19 years old had some reliability and punctuality issues. So decided we needed to find a more mature woman, and now truth be told, I probably would not hire anyone under 30 but that’s just me and the demographics of the town I’m living in, YMMV.
    Good luck. I know people who have found good sitters via Care.com as well as SitterCity.com and of course Craigslist.

  4. One thing I discovered was to go with my gut. We had a great childcare center with a hot lunch…and then the director moved on. From that point, things went down hill. It got so bad that one kid was left outdoors after playground time. The family was friends with us, but the daycare didn’t tell anyone about this. When we brought it up to them, they asked us to hush hush about it. This event,(caused by the staff being overworked), and a bullying event helped us find a new center. The new place seemed to lack some of things we loved in the other center. The hot lunch went away, the big bright windows…but the caregivers made the experience SO MUCH BETTER. Our children were respected and well cared for.I am glad we got to a point where our guts said to leave, even though the place was okay.
    good luck you will find what you need.

  5. After years of using full-service daycare and in-school latchkey, I was totally stuck for what to do for middle school/ grade 5 after school care (total unicorn in a SAHM area). I asked everyone I could find in the small town, but I hit pay dirt when I asked the secretary in the school office if she knew of anybody. I got 4 names of women who watch kids in their home. Only one has been open to taking us in, but that’s all it takes! Getting a name like this made me feel a lot better than doing a Craigslist posting for childcare…somehow it seemed like a psycho would not go to the one elementary school and ask to be listed as a babysitter, KWIM? If you can’t find a center, ask around for home-based recommendations.

  6. My daughter is in an in-home daycare, and she gets amazing care. It’s her second in-home place, since she’s now preschool age (both are Montessori). The thing I found I liked about in-home daycare was knowing that the person I met with would be the person spending time with my child. At some of the larger daycare centers we looked at, we met with the director, then briefly met with the teachers, who seemed young – like they might move on to another job at first chance. I know that’s not true everywhere.We also had sitters in our home (I work at home, and with nursing a baby, it just made more sense to have her there rather than pump all the damn day) and had mixed experiences. My favorite was the older (closer to 30 yrs old) sitter. The younger one turned out to be a bit unreliable. Good ones are out there, though!
    Look for any local parenting blogs or resources (we have an urbanmamas website in our town).
    Something else you may want to keep in mind is a place that can take both kids, once they’re old enough to both be in daycare. If that place also has preschool, that could be a bonus, too. Save time on the commute!
    Good luck!

  7. We have our son in a home-based daycare where it is a young woman (mid-20’s) and her mother who works for her. I know, on paper, it sounds a little strange, but it’s a fantastic fit. The daughter is the more practical, rule-enforcing, while the mother (“Gramma”) is the more lenient and affectionate. They are both wonderful caregivers, I completely trust them and know my son is being cherished- not just having his basic needs met- and he enjoys being there (as far as we can tell, he’s only 19mos). I don’t know how much good advice I can give because a good friend recommended this person to me after having a crappy experience with a center.What I can suggest however is posting here to tell us where you’ll be moving to (if you feel comfortable) and maybe someone in the moxie community lives there and can help you!

  8. Don’t write off the possibility of finding great in-home daycare. Just a little story to heed or ignore as you wish….I live in a big city with lots and lots of options. There are some truly wonderful centers and preschools here, and many folks encouraged us to use them. We chose to investigate in-home daycares as well. Here they’re licensed by county, so it’s easy to get a list of names and contact info, check records, etc.
    That search led us to an older woman who’d worked for decades as a pediatric LPN. When she retired, she felt called (from her experiences in a large urban hospital) to provide loving, safe care for babies and toddlers. She refused to care for more than 3 at a time, and only up to age 3. Oh…and she was a nun who happened to go to our church, so we were able to find out a raft of cool stuff about her from folks whose judgment we trusted.
    The situation was nothing short of miraculous. It definitely was not the Ritz, but it WAS everything I wanted for my wee ones while I was at work. At ages 6 and 9, our kids still talk about “Grandma Monica” with adoration. I miss her too. 🙂

  9. Ask your current daycare if they know of a provider in the new town that holds to their high standards.If they don’t know of one, they will certainly know what to look for. Many quality providers are members of organizations through which they get their continuing ed, etc.

  10. I don’t have specific small-town experience, but I’m with the commenters who say to go with your gut about the individual situation, rather than focusing only on one type of care. We successively had Mouse in a home daycare (8-18 months), a center (18 months-3 years), a nanny (just for a couple months), all day preschool (3 years to Kinder start), and now school + on site after care. Each of these situations was wonderful in its own way, and happened to suit us and Mouse at the time. I think the overarching value was the richness of the situation – not in terms of money or fanciness, but variety and experiences. That meant different things at different times; in the center, it was a huge variety of people and languages; in the preschool it was daily field trips. A rich situation with loving caregivers, whatever its exact structure, is one that can work.

  11. You sound like you’ve got the same kid spacing as we do (2yo plus one due in the fall). We *just* moved our 2yo to a Montessori preschool from Ritz-Carlton daycare because I wanted her to have some additional structure in her day, and the preschool was more flexible on scheduled days (I work part-time). I mourn some of the things we don’t have anymore – no more hot lunch and snacks, fewer teachers, less “cuddling”, but we’re all adjusting well to preschool :)In our state and area (suburb of Seattle) there are preschools that will take kids younger than 3 who are also not potty trained. (And offer full-day care.) Spots are hard to come by, but we only had to wait a few months. So it might be worth considering a move to a “preschool” rather than daycare, if you were planning to send him soon anyway.
    With #2 she will likely attend the same fancy daycare even though it’s a longer drive, because the preschool doesn’t take kids younger than 2.5. I’m ok with that, since we loved that daycare for babies and toddlers.
    One of the primary source of referrals for daycare or nannies here is through work – I work for a large company and the employees share this info. So it might be an option at your new workplace or your husband’s?

  12. I am also moving to a new area soon, and I have to find a new day care for my 2.5 yo son. I am currently in a in-home day care, and I love it. She has had the day care for 30 years, and she does a great job. She loves all of her children, and my child is happy there. I am totally bummed to be leaving that day care situation.I am probably going to look for another in-home day care and will probably start my search on Craigslist. Definitely check references, and go with your gut! I also have a secret weapon, my hubby. He does guardian ad lidem for the courts, so he is a great person to take on an interview for a new day care provider!

  13. I just wanted to chime in and say that childhood is a time of transience, so many things are changing and are confusing or not entirely clear and it’s just the way of things. Kids often roll with this stuff with much more grace than we do. As far as the Ritz vs reality – our son is at a licensed home daycare which looks really crummy from the outside and is in not the greatest neighborhood, but inside that kooky looking gate is an amazing, loving, community of kids and caregivers. As others have said, ask everyone, get referrals, and go with your gut.

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  15. My personal preference is in-home care from infant to 2 years, and center care (either center daycare or preschool) from 2-5.Gavin de Becker’s book “Protecting the Gift” has excellent lists of questions to ask babysitters/daycares/preschools. I’ve had good and bad experiences with in-home daycare, and am so glad my kids are at the age where preschool is appropriate.
    I think that, like ivy league universities vs. other universities, the differences between a top-of-the-line daycare vs. a middle-of-the-road daycare are not as significant as you think. More important than hot lunch (I’ve always packed my kids’ lunches, and I prefer that, since I can decide what they eat) or enrichment classes is a well-trained, engaging, committed staff whom has been there for years, a director whom is invested in the school and open to communicate with the parents, etc.
    You will know when you tour the facility and interview the staff how you feel in your gut.

  16. I know how difficult it can be to leave some great daycare you found in your area. Once we become comfortable and start trusting the people in any care centre, its scary thinking about leaving them specially if you are moving to a smaller town. My suggestion would be to do a lot of research before finalizing any particular day care. You can meet up the parents who will be in the best position to tell you the right situation. All the best.

  17. Switching daycare is hard. Moving is hard. Good luck with all of it!I would recommend you only look at licensed homes if you go that route. Not all states require licensing, so check into that.
    And, definitely, definitely go with your gut feeling about a place.

  18. We are currently on our third in-home daycare and they have all had their pros/cons. The first one I really liked (found thru a recommendation from a trusted friend), but she decided to close and I was heart broken. I cried for two days (which is not like me). I found my second care-giver through a co-worker (I had only 2 weeks to find someone) and she was ok. Not stellar, not terrible, just ok. When she also decided to close, I was not heartbroken. Our third place has been very good (found again on a friend’s recommendation). It is smaller than the previous places, she watches fewer kids and my kids really like it there. They watch more tv than I would like and they eat foods that I wouldn’t choose for them, but they are happy. She is dependable, reliable, honest, and kind to my kids.My advice would be to go to the places, spend a lot of time there and TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. One place I visited was right down the street from my house and would have saved me so much time and money, but I did not feel comfortable there and after asking some leading questions, I realized I could not leave my child there. Good luck!

  19. Others have given a lot of good advice and different perspectives here. I’ll just add something a good friend told me when I had to change our daycare situation somewhat suddenly: “This decision isn’t forever. If it isn’t working, you can change it.” Hearing that, a weight lifted off of my shoulders. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to make the right decision and find the perfect place that we forget that whatever choice we make isn’t permanent. If it’s not right, for whatever reason, you can change it.Good luck with the move, finding a good fit, and the new baby!

  20. We moved to a small town last year. It was really hard. A very different culture, many SAHM,and losing our friends, our wonderful daycares, etc.We did put our younger one in one of the local daycare, following my gut instinct. He facilitated the decision by refusing to let go of my leg at one of the places. Not his usual behavior.
    It turned out fine, not wonderful, but very practical for me and with some fantastic teachers (and some OK ones). And I was part time so could pick him up very early, at 3PM. We met great families, learned about other options, and are were recently accepted at one of these other options. This new daycare is farther away, and he was too young for it last year. But it’s a wonderful place. Nearly as good as where we were in our old city. Don’t know how I would have met enough people to find a good in home provider. Plus, I would rather trust a group of caregivers than just person. So, it will work out somehow. Good luck.

  21. I have moved alot, and am moving again this summer, and I think it’s the pits.But what I try to remember is that what seems strange and not-as-good at first often becomes how-could-I-live-without-this? It takes time, time, time.
    Good luck!

  22. I just wanted to put in a plug for the awesome daycare I sent my son to. He attended PreK, JrK, Kindergarten, and then after-school from January 2006 until last month. He’ll be attending their summer program this summer, but he’s 10 and my husband is working from home, so he started coming straight home after school.The daycare is called BeanTree Learning and they are located in Ashburn, VA.

  23. the world’s slaves are so well managed it, you too highly of my wild days, Sen positions, and by virtue of my Man-belly in the mountains of this meager forces, has not yet begun to be neutralized, ha ha … … sound with self-deprecating, but also frustration. one other bandit chieftain exposed smile, a helpless smile, true that they do not want freedom, in the inner world, they need freedom more than any one person. wild day after Mori positions convergence smile, looked to the crowd, everyone got up and left the table to my knees, wild days of storage Sen said: Kim Ann. Well, we continue to talk about things just. You want to raise the matter after the elderly, however, I question your old wild days Sen warehouse is working like mad can not do, but to advance with all of the Mountain Man belly head of each gang system, say hello to you, although this belated greetings, but also on behalf of all of us mind. The eyes of the world heinous robber just learned without the kill, everyone inside had been suspected

  24. “Do you pay taxes that go into building roads?”Hey, do you want me to ask: do you want to raise taxes and have free bread and milk in stoers. “….by investing in people, in its children, in its human capital….”Sure, but there must be a line somewhere. Do you think we should have free gym access through our tax bill as well? It would be investing in people and their health.People seem to go to private gyms and work even though they have to pay 2-500kr/month to look after their health. People who want to go to Open Daycare could buy a membership or pay for each visit. I definitely think that most parents could afford 200kr/month membership to their favorite (probably only in Sthlm you’ll find 2 within 10min walk) Open Daycare. I definitely believe that taxes are necessary in many ways. But, supporting Bore5s Symphony Orchestra & Open Daycare is two things, among many, I don’t find absolutely necessary to pay by taxes.

  25. FWIW, I think the transition period between knowing you are leaving the old place, but not having yet found the new place is excruciating. I remember I would always feel this way when changing appartments when I rented. I think it’s the uncertainty that is the hardest. Especialy when it comes to daycare or school. Once a new place is secured, it’s easier to start the mourning process for the old, and the warming up / discovering new possibilities for the new. Hang in there.

  26. Roger,Do you pay taxes that go into building roads? Me too, but you know what? I don’t have a car. See my point? Well after rieadng this point, now you know you are contributing to a good cause! As you’ll see in a couple of days, when I publish an interview with an expert from Ff6rse4kringkassa, all of these child and parental benefits are strongly contributing to Sweden’s relatively high reproduction rate when compared to other European countries. Without this higher reproduction rate, the economy would suffer ever more. So, see ..you actually are benefiting from the taxes you pay. Some people look at taxes and think that money is only coming out of their pocket, as if it’ll never, ever return. It’s just bad economics.

  27. If your 13 year old isn’t mature and rsisonpeble enough to make sure the others don’t trash the house, I think it’s in your best interest as well as the kids’ best interest (so they don’t get hurt) to hire someone else to watch the kids. I’m not saying daycare, because I know that is expensive, but try finding a teenager or a family friend who will watch them for little pay if possible. If that’s not possible, give them the worst punishments that will make them regret having messing up the house. I don’t know your kids, so I can’t tell you what would work, you’ll have to think of that on your own. Good luck.

  28. A 13 yr old can’t be expectd to keep 3 other kids in line. You need a rbleonsispe adult to watch your kids. My child is in daycare and they have a voucher program for low-income parents. Give your local daycare a call and see what info they can give you. I know a few moms who swipe a card every morning at daycare. I have no idea how much they pay, if anything.

  29. Kids who are tearing up the house like this oibovusly need supervision, and it’s not fair for a 13 year old to have to babysit every day. Look around for some sort of low-cost after-school/summer care or activity program for the younger boys, or maybe hire a high-school or college kid to help keep them occupied.

  30. Wow! That’s awful although epexcting a 13 year old to keep up with the actions of all of these problems is unreal. Can you apply to get aid for daycare if you are only making 9 hr.? Every county has a program to help with these types of problems.

  31. i don’t know about the us but in the uk things like penatus are banned in fact there is so much you cannot give kids e.g. breasticks because of their shape can cause a chocking hazard.. most rice caeks they have salt the list is endless even in the uk gram crakers (digestives) are a no no. my children have all gone through day care 1 with an allergy of milk her self and they were fantastic they had an allergy list in every room and were happy for me to bring my own snacks. this is something i wouldn’t overly worry abot soec as you have no kids with allergies

  32. If it was my child I would:-remove the child from day care immediately- take the child to the Dr to make sure he/she is okay-file a comialpnt with the day care and demand an explanation-file a comialpnt with the licensing board-file a comialpnt with the attorney general (any/or any other appropriate government offices)-contact a lawyer if any medical complications occured because of their actions.

  33. Em, they were so old!!!!!! Go on Baby Troops (the fb group) and look at the pictures they poestd! The dad’s seriously could have been as old as my younger uncles…late 40’s!

  34. I don’t think I would put my home address. There are a lot of crazy plpoee out there. I would put my phone number and email.Vistaprint.com has some really inexpensive cards. If you have a upromise account buy through their site and you will get a discount. That is where I would buy my business cards for real estate. Leave your card in public restrooms.

  35. The work from home jobs that aren’t scams actually rrquiee work on your part – and if you’re in need of money soon then you’re likely to be sorely disappointed in any of those as well. Most of the legit opportunities out there take time to build – so if someone makes an outrageous claim of income it probably isn’t true ( and those that are true sure didn’t make that kind of money when they first began ).Time effort rrquieed – but do your own research on what is best for you, don’t take the advice of myself and others as gospel from this type of public website.I have other ideas that may help – one of them is an online opportunity but another is one that will rrquiee a little effort to market yourself – try some data entry for local businesses, many of them don’t have the time to do it in-house and will gladly pay someone else to do it. Professionals are a good place to start, lawyers, doctors, chiropractors, etc – they need their in-house folks doing other things rather than busy work.

  36. You should have a read of the aretclis on this website, it will help you with the searching and also how to avoid scams but you’re unlikely to get the names of any genuine companies in the replies here as there is no shortage of people looking to do work at home and data entry jobs.

  37. This all looks great. I may have to do something like this one my socend son is ready for the transition to table food. Right now I’m making his baby food but he just started. Thanks for some great ideas. And yes that acorn squash recipe could very easily be adapated for your table food for little ones. Just leave out the onions. I actually put about a cup of it in the magic bullet and now have squash for my son.

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