Help With Finding Quality Care
Photo by Robert H. McGee
Anyone with children knows that finding a balance between working and raising children is always challenging, and part of that balance usually includes some type of childcare. Luckily, there are many organizations that help families ease the burden of finding safe, quality care for their children.
The Austin Metro area has hundreds of childcare facilities, including nonprofit, church and other community childcare centers; private centers; and company-sponsored childcare. Waiting lists tend to be long at some centers and preschools, so make visiting facilities, narrowing down options, and getting on waiting lists a priority when you first move into town.
Parents can get information on individual childcare facilities (i.e. licensing, accreditation) through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and information about specific providers in your area through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
The most helpful DFPS tool for parents is the online database and search form on the DFPS website that helps families locate nearby providers. On the form, parents can select from options that fit your family’s needs, such as:
• Type: Preference for a center or a home-based operation;
• Age: Whether your child is newborn, toddler, preschool or school age;
• Need: Whether your child requires special care; or
• Hours: Help after school, part-time, or on weekends
Parents can then enter their ZIP code and get a list of providers that are close to home or work. For more information, call the daycare information hotline at 800-862-5252 or visit www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care. For general information and childcare resources, visit www.dfps.state.tx.us.
The DFPS website also lists childcare standards and regulations, as well as protects children against abuse or neglect. Report suspected abuse issues by calling 800-252-5400, or through the secure DFPS website: www.txabusehotline.org.
Childcare Information and Organizations
The following are resources for local and national childcare information and organizations. For additional information – and to see a more comprehensive listing of area childcare resources and preschools – visit www.savvysource.com/preschools/c_preschools_in_austin_tx.
Austin Child Guidance Center810 West 45th Street Austin, TX 78751 512-451-2242 www.austinchildguidance.org
Focused on the mental health and well being of children, the Austin Child Guidance Center has been helping children under 18 and their families gain the emotional skills to meet life’s challenges since 1951. With a sliding fee scale, children and families from all income levels can access the professional, high-quality services they need and deserve.
The Center for Successful Fathering13740 Research Blvd., Suite B-4 Austin, TX 78750 512-335-8106 or 800-537-0853 www.fathering.org
The Center for Successful Fathering was founded in 1995 by Dr. Ron Klinger “as a response to the growing number of children growing up without a father in their lives.” Today, the Center offers local fathering and parenting skills workshops, family counseling and many other parenting services, as well as works with dads across the country through workshops and other initiatives.
Child Care Aware800-424-2246; TTY: 866-278-9428 www.childcareaware.org
A program of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (see listing below), Child Care Aware is a national initiative to “help parents find the best information on locating quality child care and child care resources in their community by connecting parents with the local agencies best equipped to serve their needs.”
Child, Inc.818 East 53rd Street Austin, TX 78751 512-451-7361; 800-222-4051 www.childinc.org
Child, Inc. is an early childhood education program that provides Head Start and Early Head Start services – comprehensive child development programs serving low-income children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families.
Extend-A-Care for Kids55 N. IH-35 Austin, TX 78702 512-472-9402 www.eackids.org
Extend-A-Care for Kids offers on-site, after-school childcare at elementary schools in Austin, Del Valle and Hays Consolidated ISDs. The program includes outdoor and indoor activities including time for reading and homework, supervised sports, field trips, creative arts, table games, math and science projects, music, dramatic play, cooking, and health and safety.
Institute for Child Care Excellence
(formerly The Fund for Childcare Excellence)P.O. Box 90723 Austin, TX 78709 512-301-5557 www.naccp.org
Created by the Austin city council in 1999 to address childcare quality and affordability, the former Fund for Child Care Excellence became the Institute for Child Care Excellence in 2005 and is now part of the National Association of Child Care Professionals (NACCP). The ICEE “provides a system to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of child care.” Programs include college scholarships for childcare workers, fellowships for experienced childcare staff, community wide director training, awards ceremonies, and family-friendly business awards.
National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA)3101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 350 Arlington, VA 22201 703-341-4100 www.naccrra.org
NACCRRA is a national network of more than 800 childcare resource and referral centers (CCR&Rs) to ensure that “families in every community have access to high-quality, affordable childcare.”
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)1313 L St. N.W., Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20005 800-424-2460 www.naeyc.org
NAEYC is focused on “the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8,” including improving professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education; supporting early childhood programs by working to achieve a high-quality system of early childhood education; and building an organization of groups and individuals who are committed to promoting excellence in early childhood education for all young children.”
National Association of FamilyChild Care (NAFCC) 5202 Pinemont Drive Salt Lake City, UT 84123 800-359-3817 www.nafcc.org
NACCRRA is a national organization “dedicated to strengthening the profession of family childcare by promoting high quality, professional early care and education and strengthening communities where providers live and work.”
The SavvySource for Parentswww.savvysource.com
Launched in 2006 by a California mom, the SavvySource website helps parents sort through the maze of preschools/ childcare options in their area to find the right one for their child. Austin is one of many cities with listings, with more than 100 schools listed. The site’s most popular feature, however, is the parent ratings, where parents with experience at a school can go online and weigh in on the quality of teaching, development of social skills, discipline, safety and much more. There are also listings for area camps, educational toys, books, activities, classes and more.
Texas Association of Child Care
Resource and Referral Agencies866-TX-CHILD (892-4453) www.taccrra.net
The Texas Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (TACCRRA) supports Texas’ young children, parents and early education providers through a variety of services, including helping parents find childcare, advocating for and improving the quality of care, promoting early childhood education, and collaborating with community organizations.
Workforce Solutions – Capital Area6505 Airport Blvd., Suite 101-E Austin, TX 78752 512-597-7100 www.wfscapitalarea.com
A private, publicly-funded non-profit organization, Workforce Solutions - Capital Area is the leadership and governing body for the regional workforce system and is responsible for the planning, oversight, and evaluation of workforce development activities in the Austin/Travis County area – including offering such services as childcare referrals for low- to moderate-income families, job training, placement, and more.
Parent Tips for Choosing Childcare
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services offers the following tips for choosing childcare:
• Once you have narrowed down a list of providers, get details about their license to provide care. Each childcare facility’s regulatory history of inspections and reports is available online.
• Visit the facilities. It is always polite to schedule a time with the director for your initial facility tour, but make a second visit to observe a classroom when you are not expected. See how well the caregiver provides a safe and healthy environment. Once you place your child in care, remain involved and keep asking questions.
• Look carefully at home or apartments that have a pool or are near lakes, creeks or other bodies of water. The caregiver can explain how she ensures the safety of children in and around these bodies of water.
• Discuss any concerns with the caregiver. Respect the caregiver’s time—her main responsibility is working with the children. Don’t be offended if the caregiver can’t spend much time talking with you when you drop off or pick up your child. If you need more time to talk about your child, set up a conference.
• It’s normal for children to have some fears and misgivings about starting childcare outside the home. Children need time to get used to new situations. Prepare your child for the change as far in advance as possible. Discuss his or her concerns. It is important to let the caregiver know about things at home that may affect how your child is doing while in care.
• Talk to your child about his or her experiences in care. Watch for a time each day when your child is quiet and feeling secure and protected.
• Gently ask questions about how he or she is doing. Share their excitement about new friends, skills and abilities. Above all, listen to their concerns, and give them a chance to boast about their achievements.
Did you like what you read here? Order your FREE copy of Austin Relocation Guide!
Edit ModuleShow Tags