Having a caregiver come to or live in your home can be very convenient. In-home caregivers often can arrange their schedules to match your needs. Your child stays at home and does not have to adjust to a new setting. Your child will not be exposed to many seasonal illnesses because he will not be with groups of children. Your child may receive more individual attention, especially if the caregiver does not pursue other interests while caring for your child. If your caregiver also does housekeeping for your family, stress that your child's needs come first.

Your in-home caregiver needs to know exactly what you expect. Discuss the following issues specifically with prospective caregivers:

Activities and interactions that you want for your child, such as reading and playtime.

· How to use positive, effective discipline with your child, and what rules and limits you have set for your child.

· What the caregiver will and will not do in your home.

· Outings that are acceptable for your child and how to use the proper car safety seat, booster seat or seat belt for your child in motor vehicles.

· Limits for television, video games or other media. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children younger than two years. For older children, the AAP recommends no more than one to two hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs.

· How and when the caregiver can contact you with questions or if there is an emergency.

The caregiver should provide you with a daily schedule of what is planned and a daily report of what occurred. However, it is hard to know for sure what the caregiver does when you are not there. You will want to arrange for frequent, unannounced visits by a friend or family member who can observe how the caregiver interacts with your child and tell you about it. Keep in mind that relationships with in-home caregivers tend to be very personal. At times you may function as both employer and friend or extended family for the caregiver.

Skilled in-home caregivers are difficult to find. You will need a backup plan for the times when the caregiver is sick, has a personal need for time off, or goes on vacation. In some areas, agencies may provide training, placement and supervision for in-home caregivers.

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