Can a friend be your daycare provider?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  November 4, 2009 06:00 AM

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Hi,

I just recently ran into an old friend of mine. I have a 16-month-old daughter, and the person I was taking her for daycare to was no longer available. My friend has a daughter that is just a little bit older plus 5 other kids of various age ranges- 3 under age 5. I thought it would be great when she told me that she could watch her for me, but recently at a party, I saw my daughter go up to her little girl, and the little girl just glared at her and walked away. This happened twice and my daughter just looked upset and bewildered. None of her other kids even acted like she was there. I felt really uncomfortable. Is this normal? What should I do?

From: bigmommasea, Seattle

Hi Bigmommasea,

First things first. Is this friend licensed? Is she accredited through NAEYC? What qualifies her as a family day care provider? The way you phrase it -- that she could "watch her for me" -- makes me nervous. Is she presenting herself as, basically, a baby sitter? Because if she is caring for five children in addition to her own, that's more than a babysitter.

At the very least, having a friend care for your child can make life tricky and sticky should some problem arise like, oh, say, children who are mean to each other...? I don't really mean to be sarcastic, but I am trying to make a point: When it comes to the care of our children, it's best to deal with professionals. Listen, for all I know, your friend is a professional, but you know what? Even if she has excellent credentials and she's licensed, I'd still be nervous about establishing this kind of relationship with her because if there is a problem, the friendship can get in the way of the child care, or the child care can get in the way of the friendship.

Either way, it's a no win.

I'm not even addressing the issue of what you saw happen between the two girls. Frankly, I'm not sure you can draw conclusions about this child's future behavior toward your daughter based on what you've described. When children are in unfamiliar territory, especially noisy unfamiliar territory, they can often feel discombobulated and act in ways that are atypical.

But before I would put my child in any new day care situation, I would want to observe it several times to see such things as how children of different ages interact with each; how the provider interacts with them and guides the play; how she transitions them from one activity to the next; how she disciplines.....etc.

What have been readers' experiences when friends provide your day care? Have you ever had reason to regret your decision?


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4 comments so far...
  1. Not addressing the daycare issue, but what bigmommasea saw happen at the party may not be typical of the behavior normally exhibited by the little girl. When my daughter turned one, she was already walking (trying to run) and interacting with other kids in play situations, but at her first birthday party, she was grumpy and didn't care to play with her little friends at all. None of the babies did.

    At 16 months and "a little older", it's not surprising. Kids that age don't typically bond in the way older kids do - and they tend to play around each other, not directly with each other anyway.

    But I do agree taht you should see how they normally interact and how your daughter is playing in this "daycare" environment.

    If it were me, I wouldn't have a friend act as a daycare provider, but that's just me.

    Posted by phe November 4, 09 07:26 AM
  1. In this situation, I don't think I'd be comfortable having the friend as a daycare provider. I think it can work well when the families know one another well, the children get along, and the parents are on the same page about discipline, snacks, etc., and if the arrangement is for part-time or reciprocal care (ie I watch your kids on Monday, you watch mine on Wednesday). It doesn't sound like any of those things are true in the LW's situation.

    Posted by akmom November 4, 09 09:51 AM
  1. Your daughter would be #7?

    I don't think so!

    Posted by just_cos November 4, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Family Child Care Providers can only be licensed through the National Association of Family Child Care, not from NAEYC. For more information, go to www.nafcc.org

    Posted by Donna Fowler November 5, 09 08:23 AM
 
4 comments so far...
  1. Not addressing the daycare issue, but what bigmommasea saw happen at the party may not be typical of the behavior normally exhibited by the little girl. When my daughter turned one, she was already walking (trying to run) and interacting with other kids in play situations, but at her first birthday party, she was grumpy and didn't care to play with her little friends at all. None of the babies did.

    At 16 months and "a little older", it's not surprising. Kids that age don't typically bond in the way older kids do - and they tend to play around each other, not directly with each other anyway.

    But I do agree taht you should see how they normally interact and how your daughter is playing in this "daycare" environment.

    If it were me, I wouldn't have a friend act as a daycare provider, but that's just me.

    Posted by phe November 4, 09 07:26 AM
  1. In this situation, I don't think I'd be comfortable having the friend as a daycare provider. I think it can work well when the families know one another well, the children get along, and the parents are on the same page about discipline, snacks, etc., and if the arrangement is for part-time or reciprocal care (ie I watch your kids on Monday, you watch mine on Wednesday). It doesn't sound like any of those things are true in the LW's situation.

    Posted by akmom November 4, 09 09:51 AM
  1. Your daughter would be #7?

    I don't think so!

    Posted by just_cos November 4, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Family Child Care Providers can only be licensed through the National Association of Family Child Care, not from NAEYC. For more information, go to www.nafcc.org

    Posted by Donna Fowler November 5, 09 08:23 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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