March 23, 2010 by Robin Beckett
By Sara Bristol
Thinking about returning to the work force? Planning for another baby? If so, you’re likely feeling a little anxiety about this topic: Who’s going to watch the kids?
On the surface, the task seems simple enough: There’s probably a house down the street with a “kidz R us” sign posted in the lawn. Or, open the phone book and you’ll find dozens of day cares. (Look under C for child care, duh.)
|HELP! WHERE DO I FIND CHILD CARE?
STEP 1: For help locating a licensed child-care provider, contact Child Care Resource & Referral. Call 509-965-7109 or visit childcarenet.org/families.
STEP 2: Research a provider’s licensing information through the Washington State Child Care Information System. Call the Department of Early Learning at 509-225-6272 or visit apps.del.wa.gov/check.
However, finding reliable child care — somebody you can afford and somebody you can trust — isn’t as simple as dialing up a pizza.
“I didn’t really know how to access the home day cares,” says Julie Baken, a Yakima legal assistant, who several years ago enrolled her oldest son in a child-care center because she wasn’t familiar with other options. In hindsight, Baken says, an in-home provider with more time for one-on-one interaction may have been a better fit for Jarrin, who seemed overwhelmed by the other kids.
“It was hard to drop him off every single day,” says Baken, recalling how her son would cling to her. The center was also expensive, she notes.
“I’ve always found that you have to pay for the days even if you’re not there,” says Baken, who often takes time off from work on Fridays to spend time with her boys.
Now Baken’s younger son, 18-month-old Avery, gets lots of personal attention from his two grandmothers and a great-grandmother who each watch him for a day or two each week. “Avery’s more outgoing, so we may end up putting him in day care in the next year or two,” Baken says. “He needs more social interaction. He always wants to play with other kids he sees.”
CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS | Do you need full-time care or part-time care? Do you need child care during unusual hours? Would a location close to work or home be more convenient? Do you prefer a more intimate in-home setting or a center where children are separated by age?
“We had heard from a number of different people who had their children at Carroll who said they absolutely loved the atmosphere,” says Ryan Messer, whose 4-year-old son, Edward, has attended Carroll Children’s Center since he started walking.
Messer and wife Genipher, who each work full-time, like the educational atmosphere of the large center, which has distinct classrooms for each age cohort with appropriate activities and toys. “We don’t refer to it as child care, as day care, we refer to it as school,” Messer says. “Edward goes to school.”
WHERE TO LOOK | A starting point for finding licensed care providers is the state’s Child Care Resource & Referral Network. The network’s local office, a part of Yakima’s Catholic Family & Child Service, maintains a database of 850 licensed child-care providers in Yakima, Grant and Kittitas counties.
Over the phone or online, parents provide their child’s age, times they need care, location preferences and any other needs, such as transportation or language, and the database provides a list of care providers that meet the requirements.
“It’s a referral, not a recommendation,” stresses program supervisor Maria Vasquez. “We definitely want parents to go out and interview the provider. We really try hard to make sure that the parents know this is their responsibility. You need to interview this provider for a job.”
PLAN A VISIT | Parents should plan to visit any provider they’re considering hiring — and don’t be shy about asking questions.
“I really appreciate it when parents ask me questions about what we’re doing during the day,” says Carroll Children’s Center director Kathy Helseth.
Helselth welcomes parents’ questions about the daily routine, student-teacher ratios and the center’s philosophies on education and discipline. “ I really appreciate it when they ask me something more than ‘How much does it cost?’ and ‘When are you open?’,” she says. “It tells me the parents want something more than somebody to keep their kids and out of mischief.”
DO MORE RESEARCH | Before making a decision, Vasquez also suggests parents check up on a provider’s licensing history through the Washington state’s Licensed Child Care Information System. An online database allows parents to get information about any licensing complaints found to be valid by the state, dating back several years.
Although specific case details aren’t available, information about the nature of the complaint — health/sanitation, record keeping, supervision, etc. — as well as the number of complaints can give parents a reasonably good idea whether there’s cause for concern. Parents may follow up with the provider if they have questions about a specific complaint or resolution.
Parents also should feel welcome to ask a provider for references.
CONSIDER ALL OPTIONS | Especially if you’re in the market for infant care, plan on making multiple calls.
“It really is tough” to find child care for infants, says Helseth. “Not everyone takes infants because it’s labor intensive, it’s very expensive. I have told people — and some of them are actually doing it — when you find out you’re pregnant, start lining up child care right then.”
Some providers, including Carroll, keep a waiting list. Even then, “have an alternate plan,” Helseth suggests. “If this doesn’t work out, what am I going to do?”
The Messers had to answer that question. Though their 4-year-old goes to Carroll, Ryan and Genipher had to find other arrangements for 4-month-old Jonathan after a confluence of circumstances caused them to give up their spot on the wait list.
For now, baby Jonathan is being cared for by a family member, a situation that has some major perks. “We like that he’s with family,” Ryan Messer says. “It doesn’t feel quite the same as leaving your child (in child care) during that first year.”
Sometimes called FFN Care — for Family, Friend & Neighbor Care — informal child care arrangements like the Messers’ and Baken’s are quite common. State figures show there are about 295,000 FFN child-care providers, often grandparents, throughout Washington who watch one or more children an average of 18 hours a week. About 60 percent don’t receive payment for their work.
At Resource & Referral, Vasquez invites these friend and family care providers to take advantage of Catholic Family’s Resource Library, which offers parenting books, children’s books, theme boxes for circle time activities and more. Many parents and care givers may not know about this free resource, Vasquez says.
“If there’s anything we can offer to anyone that will benefit children, we’ll do it,” she says. “If we don’t have it, we will find it.”
WHAT’S THE COST? According to the Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network, the 2009 monthly median cost for full-time child care at centers in Yakima County was $624 for infants, $521 for toddlers ages 1-2.5 years, $483 for preschoolers ages 2.6-5 years and $260 for school-age kids.
Comparable costs for licensed in-home child care were somewhat less: $556 for infants, $483 for toddlers, $432 for preschoolers and $216 for school-age kids.
SAY THANKS | Friday, May 7, is Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. Visit childcarenet.org/families to download a certificate of appreciation to give your care provider.
By Scott Klepach Jr.
I’m not sure how I feel about texting. I haven’t taken up the practice, but I’m not convinced it will be the death of all language and communication.
Maybe this drastic shift is what is supposed to happen in 2012? Some say language will forever be changed, with a shrinking globe and an expanded texting plan. This whole trend may turn into “The Great Bowel Shift” because the prospect of such change causes some adults to quiver and experience stomach-upset. Even though I refrain from texting, I can’t say I am immune to its alluring properties, and one in particular: coded language.
As a parent, I have become a verbal texter, and my wife and I have either spelled out or abbreviated many things so as not to excite, sadden or disappoint our daughter in case we do not have those items in stock. This verbal texting is almost exclusively used for food.
I ask my wife, “Do we have any more SBs?” My daughter had been asking for strawberries earlier, but I didn’t want to risk saying the word without getting her hopes up unnecessarily.
“I need to head to the store to get Bs, Cs and M-I-L-K.” That’s bananas, cookies, and, well, you’re following along.
I used to spell out bananas, but shortened it to “B” only because if my synapses weren’t firing correctly I might forget how many “n-a” combinations I’ve provided, and feel like my mind has taken a tumble on a slip and slide.
“B-A-N-A-N-A.” I turn to my wife and ask, “Is that how you spell it?” It’s not that I don’t know how to spell banana, but reciting the letters makes it sound incomplete. Is that all there is to it? When you say it aloud, it seems like there should be one or two more pairs of letters there. “B-A-N-A-N-A-N-A-S” sounds much more satisfying, something akin to Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture” with all the right concluding notes.
Speaking of eggs, I don’t have to spell out that one, since my daughter hates them. But I do have to be careful with milk. If stated too quickly, M-I-L-K sounds a lot like the word itself. Try it. The same thing goes for oranges. O-R-A-N-G-E. My daughter has caught me with that one before, but we were all out. Not wanting to risk that situation again, I revised my reference to, simply, “O.”
So it is that our pantry features, at some time or another, PTs (pop tarts), FBs (fruit bars), and SB and J (Sun Butter and Jelly, since my daughter is allergic to peanuts — which, on a positive note, means we don’t have to use “P” for peanut, but can reserve that letter for pears. If my daughter has a craving for the vegetable with the same sound, then we’ll face another quandary). Our freezer houses PSs (popsicles), and our refrigerator might consist of Ts (tomatoes) and the aforementioned SBs and other F-R-U-I-T.
But it’s not always this simple. She might be playing in the other room, and I am as silent as can be as I peel the last available orange, carefully remove each slice, and take my first bite. I am stealthy. But then there’s thumping. She knows. Somehow, she has detected I am up to something, and it’s something she wants. Now. The orange is hidden on the counter, well out of her line of vision, and I am holding the orange slice still in my mouth. I keep my lips closed and try to look natural. But she spots me, and without any hesitation, her smile vanishes and her brow furrows.
She says, “Sat.” (Translation: What’s that?) Her voice is low and measured. “Sat!?” Louder now, and she heads toward me, picking up the pace with thumping steps. “Sat? SAT!???” My cover is blown, and, ashamed, I am forced to confess my actions and relinquish the orange. No verbal texting will save me here.
I understand I am hiding information, even if only temporarily, from my daughter. But I don’t think our codes will reduce her ability to learn and describe objects, either. One afternoon, as she was sitting in her car seat in the Pacifica as we pulled out of the driveway, my daughter gazed at the spotted clouds and said, “Look, Mama. Polka dot clouds!” “Oh, you’re right,” my wife said, “Those are polka dot clouds!” My daughter continued with slow, calculated words: “Yeah, I’ve eaten those before.” My wife asked her what they tasted like, and she responded, “Like big, fluffy pillows.”
That account reveals an important truth: My verbal texting, up to this point, has not impeded my daughter from providing better poetic descriptions than I can muster after much deliberation. But someday, very shortly indeed, these codes will go away. My only hope is that the experience of sharing food with each other is not going to be short-changed, as some argue texting has or will do to language.
After all, we live to eat, and eat diligently so we can hurry up and get to the next meal. But I’ll suck it up because, as we all know, there’s no use crying over spilled M-I-L-K.
March 22, 2010 by Robin Beckett
By Laura Reed
- Physical therapists at Children’s Village see up to six new babies every month who are sent by their doctor because they have flat heads. It is estimated that one out of every 50 babies will experience this condition, called plagiocephaly.
Although there are many reasons why a baby’s head may become flat, many cases are preventable. In all cases, it’s important to seek treatment because plagiocephaly can negatively affect your baby’s developing vision, hearing and movement.
Why is my baby’s head flat?
There are many reasons why a baby’s head becomes flat. Twins or triplets are more at risk due to the limited space they have to change position in utero. Premature birth, low muscle tone or birth complications may place a baby at higher risk. Sometimes babies have medical or skeletal issues that have caused this.
Unfortunately, some of the things that give us convenience are also to blame for many cases of plagiocephaly. Babies now spend much of their time in infant carriers, baby swings and bouncy seats. You can imagine how a baby rests the back or side of his head when sitting in one of these devices. Prolonged pressure quickly causes a baby’s head shape to change; skull bones not yet fused together actually shift, causing his head to become flat.
What are the symptoms of this condition?
By the time a baby begins physical therapy at 6 to 12 weeks of age, the flatness often is very noticeable and the baby also has uneven eyes, ears, nose cheeks, forehead and jaw.
Muscles in the baby’s neck may also become tight, making it hard for her to turn her head one way, a condition called torticollis. The combination of these conditions makes it difficult for your baby to look to both directions, reach with both arms, and roll to both directions. It makes it difficult for your baby to raise his or her head when on his or her tummy.
If untreated, a baby could experience a “head tilt” posture that does not go away. Alignment of the eyes, ears and jaw may be affected as well as the shape of the skull. Vision and hearing also may be impacted, as well as motor coordination and balance.
How can I keep my baby from getting a flat head?
Prevention is the easiest treatment. It’s really pretty simple!
First, to decrease the risk of SIDS, always, always have your baby sleep on his back. And, always have your baby secure in his car seat when riding in a vehicle. However, when the baby is not sleeping or riding in a vehicle, here’s what you can do:
- Give your baby lots of time on her tummy when you can closely supervise her. Place your baby on her tummy, helping her to prop on her elbows several times a day, for short periods of time.
- Use a front pack or baby sling for baby-wearing, versus a bouncy seat, swing or infant carrier. Limit time spent in car seats to only those times when your baby is riding in a vehicle.
- Change the way your baby’s head is positioned when sleeping. For one nap, turn his head toward the left. For the next nap, position his head in the middle. For the next nap, to the right.
- Encourage your baby to look to the right and the left by giving her lots of things to watch with her eyes.
What should I do if my baby’s head seems flat?
You should talk to your doctor immediately if you notice that your baby’s head is flat, or if she prefers to turn her head one way more than the other.
Your baby will be evaluated for any tightness of neck muscles, limitations of movement and abnormalities of the skull. The therapist will provide you with stretching and positioning exercises to perform several times each day.
Depending on the severity of your baby’s torticollis and plagiocephaly, weekly therapy may be recommended. In addition, some babies will need to wear a helmet to re-shape their head.
Laura Reed is a pediatric physical therapist at Children’s Village in Yakima.