The child care that you choose for your family will play a key role in your child's health and development. Finding high-quality child care is very important, but not always easy. You will need to consider many questions. But you are not alone — an increasing number of parents rely on quality child care so that they can work or attend school. The following information may help you in your search for the child care option that is best for your family.

There are several types of child care. Be sure to consider your family needs, schedule and your child's personality as you consider the type care that's right for your child. Generally, there are three types of child care:

· In-home care — the caregiver comes into your home.

· Family child care — you take your child to the home of the caregiver.

· Center-based care — you take your child to a place that is organized and staffed specifically to care for a group or groups of children.

Selecting the right person to care for your child is another important aspect of choosing child care. Caregivers can be family members, people you knew before considering them as caregivers, or people with whom you will develop new relationships. Whatever type of care you choose, the relationship between you and your child's caregiver will be an important part of your life. Plan to spend some time together with your caregiver and your child so that you can learn about each other.

It is important to check your caregiver's background, training and references. The training of caregivers should include the following:

· Child development and early education (ie, the types of behavior that are typical for children your child's age and the types of activities that will help your child learn and grow)

· Using positive, effective discipline (including how to handle challenging behavior)

· Recognizing signs of illness

· Cleanliness and safety standards to prevent illness and injury (including how to use the proper car seats, booster seats and seat belts for children in motor vehicles)

· First aid and proper response to choking and other emergencies

· How to evacuate the home or child care center safely in an emergency

One key to good child care is whether the caregiver can adapt to the needs of each child and family. Not all children of the same age are at the same level of development; each child has unique character traits. A good caregiver understands these personal and developmental differences and creates a program to meet each child's needs. The type of child care that is best for your child may change as she grows older.

Finding programs and caregivers to meet the needs of children with disabilities or other special needs may be challenging. Inclusive programs usually work closely with parents and the child's pediatrician to find the best ways to provide a safe and supportive environment for every child. Discuss your child's needs with your pediatrician and caregiver to help your child function well in a positive environment.

Ask your pediatrician for advice about child care for your child. Your pediatrician can help you and your child's caregiver plan for your child's special needs, development activities suitable for his age, health, safety and any problems that come up while you are using child care.

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