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.)