Spotlight On: Care LuLu, Online Help Finding The Right Preschool

Finding the right childcare for your family can often turn into all encompassing project. It did for Patrick Matos and Evgeniya Usmanov. After embarking on an exhaustive childcare search for their two daughters, the couple decided to launch, a site devoted to helping parents quickly identify child care and preschool programs that fit their needs and are within their budget. We spoke with Evgeniya to find out more about her families successful startup as well as the secrets to navigating the world of child care.

Q: What prompted you to launch the company?
A: When I decided to return to work, I needed to find child care for my infant and preschooler, yet it seemed none of the child care centers offered the things I was looking for. After visiting 16 programs over a four month period, my husband and I finally settled on the one!
What's the most important thing to look for when choosing a daycare?
Safety first! Make sure you are going with a child care provider that has a valid State license or a County permit. Second, spend time talking to the director or owner to see how engaged and interested they seem. Finally, ask the caregiver for at least three parent references.

Q: What types of daycares are out there and how do I know which one is right for me?
A: There are small and large home-based programs, centers with anywhere from 20 to 150 kids that offer summer camp and enrichment activities, faith-based preschools, cooperative daycares with lots of hands-on parent involvement, language immersion programs that teach one or more foreign languages, high-tech programs with emphasis on STEM, part-time morning programs, and accredited early education programs such as NAEYC that follow specific type of curriculum. There are also many variations of these programs that use different types of teaching philosophies (Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio, simply play-based, or teacher-directed), among many others. To find the program that’s right for you and your child, start by making a list of the top most important elements/criteria for your family.

Q: When looking at facilities, what are some red flags to look for?
A: Daycare license should be posted by the entrance door and made public for parents to see. Programs without a valid license are a major red flag. Pay attention to the caregiver-to-child ratio. You should not see more than 4 babies per caregiver (or less if older children are present as well); note that ratios vary by State. Listen to your motherly instinct or your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!

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