Throughout the region there's not enough space for kids in need of care. Finding the right place for your child’s care can be a challenge. You should start looking, sooner than you’d think.
“The minute you know you’re pregnant," said SUNY Cortland Child Care Center Director Stephanie Fritz. "If you don’t want anybody to know, we’ve taken calls before where I’m pregnant, I’d like to be put on the wait list but please don’t tell anyone and we’ll keep it in confidence until that parent’s ready to share.”
There are hundreds of people on Stephanie’s waiting list for the SUNY Cortland Child Care center. They’re as old as five, and many of them aren’t born yet.
“We’ve had parents on the phone just in tears going ‘What do you mean you don’t have a spot?’” Fritz said. “I don’t have a spot, we won’t have a spot. Our infants stay in the infant room for 18 months, and that spot is tied up for that whole 18 months and we only have 16 spots.”
Parents should know the type of care they’re looking for. Family child care, are homes that operate as a childcare business. Day care centers are larger, with their own facility.
"Social skills, that is the most important thing they’re going to be learning during those years. How to get along with people, they can’t do that one on one with an adult, they need to have children around," said Cortland Child Development Council Anne Withers.
Once you pick the type of care you want, what exactly should you be looking for? Make sure you’re taking a tour of the facility and watch how the providers are interacting with the kids. You can even check to see what accreditations facilities have. Plus, don’t be afraid to bring your questions.
“Ask them those questions about security and fire drills and what happens if you have those scenarios," said Fritz.
Even the types of toys are important to notice.
“Obviously they’re not talking about physics at a 12th grade level but when children experience things like having chances to roll balls down different lengths of tubing or things like that they’re getting a science experience," said Withers.
Making sure you find the best spot for your little one.
Broome, Oneida, and Onondaga counties are all getting a piece of $20 million of funding, announced by Governor Cuomo last month. The money is expected to provide 2,500 spaces for kids in childcare across the state.