Sirinya Matute is a full-time working mother whose son enrolled at Kennedy Family Child Care when he was 4 months old. This was originally published pre-COVID on her blog, Raising Wilshire, and has been edited for clarity.
There was never doubt in my mind that I would return to work after the birth of my first child. I loved my job, revered my boss, and took immense pride in my work in public service. We also live in the LA area, and the high cost of housing required both of our incomes. And lastly, I didn’t want to stop working. Even if I were to leave my full time job, I realized I would still want to fill my time with other unpaid work, such as board service or being active in local politics. So, the million dollar question for me was: who would take care of our child while we worked?
With your partner, agree on your “musts” – and remember what your “musts” may shift over time. These were ours at the start of our search:
- Hours – they had to be long enough. I work a 9/80 schedule.
- Location: We are a one-car family – and traffic is really bad in LA – so ideally daycare would be near home or my office in Downtown Santa Monica.
- Program Quality. I had to feel good about the provider and vice versa.
Other factors may matter more for you. These are some to consider:
- Availability. Will there be an opening for your child when you have to return to work? As Gleam Davis often points out, parents – disproportionately women – often postpone their return to work due to a lack of childcare, which has profound impacts on earnings and financial security.
- Price. Because money does not grow on trees.
- Religious Affiliation or Pedagogy: Montessori! Reggio Familia! Church or Synagogue!
- Languages Spoken. Ours is Spanish dual immersion.
- Center vs In-Home Day Care. Centers might have longer hours, but usually cost more and have fewer infant spaces.
- Documentation Status. You can get in trouble for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny. But childcare is also expensive, as the U.S. invests very little in it. And because of tremendous demand, immigrant women make up the majority of the domestic workforce (which includes childcare workers).