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Sites like Care.com don’t screen childcare providers, but here’s how parents can

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Whether you're looking for a day care provider, a nanny or just a casual babysitter so you can have a date night, finding and vetting quality childcare can be really hard. Parents put a lot of trust in word of mouth, and online marketplaces like Care.com, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, sites which list childcare providers don't always vet them or run background checks. In the end, that's up to us parents.

In a statement to Motherly a Care.com spokesperson explains "we do not currently run preliminary screens on the care businesses listed on our site but have made the existing notice about that more prominent," and that Care.com is exploring solutions to verify the identities of users posting on the site. The company has recently changed its process for approving and managing individual caregiver profiles. As of this writing, newly enrolling caregivers are able to prepare applications to jobs and complete their profiles, but Care.com isn't releasing any applications or messages from new caregivers on the site until the new preliminary screening processes are complete.

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Care.com recommends parents confirm the personal information of potential candidates found on Care.com, interview them and run a background check, noting that it is "a process that takes time, thoughtfulness and rigor."

So here's what parents need to do when hiring a childcare provider:

1) Do Google and social media searches first

Google the name of any day care center, day home provider or babysitter you are considering and see what comes up. If the day care made the news due to an abuse claim or other problematic situation you might want not even want to continue looking into them and can just scratch them off your list.

If you're considering a day home provider, look not only at the social media accounts for their business but also at any public social media accounts for any adult living in the home.

2) Verify any claims about licenses

It's unfortunate, but sometimes day care providers will create online listings stating that their day home or day care center is licensed by the state when it, in fact, is not. The process for checking on a provider's licensing depends on what state you're in.

According to Child Care Aware, "in some states, parents can view inspection reports online. In other states, parents must contact their local licensing office for that information."

To check if your state lists the inspection reports online, check out the Child Care Aware resources map and click on your state.

3) Ask about safe sleep practices

Day homes and day cares should never be putting children down for naps in strollers, swings or car seats, but unfortunately this does happen frequently and can lead to tragic consequences.

Parents should ask questions about where and how babies and children nap at a day care or day home. Babies should be sleeping in a firm crib, bassinet, or Pack n' Play that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American Academy of Pediatrics notes. There should be nothing in the crib with them.

Toddlers and preschoolers should be napping on safe, low surfaces (like cots). In center-based care settings a staff member should be supervising napping children at all times.

Day care centers or day homes should be able to show you where and how the children nap. If they don't want to, that's a big red flag.

4) Criminal reference checks

Any adult who is present in a childcare setting should have passed a criminal background check. For center-based care, ask how the center checks the backgrounds of all staff members, from early childhood educators to janitors and kitchen staff. Day care centers should be running comprehensive background checks on all employees who have access to the building.

For home-based care, any adult living in the home should have a recent criminal background check available for parents to see. This includes the spouse of the caregiver and any adult children living in the home.

If you're hiring a nanny or babysitter, they too should have a recent criminal record check from the local police service handy. If they don't have a current copy, they should be comfortable with you requesting they provide a new one.

5) Ask about supervision ratios (and make sure they're accurate)

When we're talking about infant care, an adult should only be caring for about four babies at a time. Child Care Aware recommends centers align with the following best practices, and ensure workers are always within sight of each other so that no one worker is never alone with the kids.

  • For babies 0-12 months: 3-4 children per caregiver, max group size of 8 children
  • For babies 13-23 months: 4 children per caregiver, max group size of 8 children
  • For 2-year-olds: 4-6 children per caregiver, max group size of 12 children
  • For 3-year-olds: 7-9 children per caregiver, max group size of 18 children
  • For 4 and 5-year-olds: 8-10 children per caregiver, max group size of 20 children
  • For 6 to 8-year-olds: 10 children per caregiver, max group size of 20 children
  • For 9 to 12-year-olds: 12 children per caregiver, max group size of 24 children

6) Ask about health and safety practices

If vaccinations are a concern for you, ask if your care provider accepts staff and children who are not vaccinated so you can find care that aligns with your beliefs. Center-based daycares should be able to show you where the first aid kits are kept and how many staff members (all of them, ideally) have been recently certified in First Aid and CPR. There should be policies regarding the storage and dosing of medication for children.

Home-based care providers should also be certified in CPR and First aid and be able to show you where medications are stored (out of reach of children) and how they make sure medications and doses do not get mixed up.

In both center-based and home-based care, exterior doors should be locked at all times.

Bottom line: Parents need to be detectives

When choosing a center or individual to care for your child, it's important to ask as many questions as you have. It's not rude, it's just our jobs as mamas. Ask about curriculum, discipline, nutrition and don't be afraid to follow up.

Ali Dodd is the founder of Shepard's Watch, a community dedicated to advocating for safe child care. Dodd lost her infant son Shepard four years ago when his day care provider put him down for a nap in a car seat and he asphyxiated (it should have been a flat crib, as per the AAP). As Dodd recently told Fox 25 News in Oklahoma, parents should never be afraid to ask questions of a potential or current child care provider.

"It feels like, by you bringing this up, you may be rubbing your provider in the wrong way or you're communicating to them that you don't trust them. But a good provider would never feel that way. Ever," she explains.

"If parents have to be a detective I want them to know how to do that. It's the most important thing to do before putting your child in day care while you're at work," says Dodd.

Dodd suggests that parents don't just do background checks when enrolling in child care, but also periodically as your child remains in care. "I would set an alert on your phone if you're using a home or center. Put a recurring alert because you won't know until you check. And no one is going to tell you," she explains.

If you live in a state where inspection reports are online, it's pretty easy to take a peek every few months.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Last month Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom announced some big news: The engaged pair are expecting a baby!

Perry announced her pregnancy when the music video for her single, "Never Worn White" showed her rocking a bump and this weekend she announced she's expecting a girl...by posting a photo of Bloom's face covered in pink frosting.

She geotagged the photo "Girls Run the World" and captioned it "💕 It's a girl 💕."

Clearly, this man is thrilled about becoming a #girldad.

Perry is due in the summer, as she previously noted on Instagram.

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"Let's just say it's gonna be a jam packed summer..." she captioned her original pregnancy announcement.

"OMG, so glad I don't have to suck it in anymore," Perry tweeted after the big news went public.

"I am excited. We're excited and happy and it's probably the longest secret I've ever had to keep," Perry explained in a live stream with fans.

Of course not long after Perry announced her pregnancy the world changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the pandemic, Perry and Bloom have postponed their wedding, according to People and are pretty much just laying low at home trying to enjoy Perry's pregnancy as much as possible during this difficult time.

Perry recently told Stellar Magazine that the wedding is about more than throwing a big bash, so while it would be totally normal to be disappointed by having to postpone it, the mom-to-be seems to be in a good place regarding her nuptials.

She told Stellar: "It's not about the party. It's about the coming together of people who will hold us accountable when things get really hard. Those are just the facts when you're with someone who challenges you to be your best self."

The little girl Bloom and Perry are expecting will have a lot of people to love on her. While this is the first child for Perry, Bloom is already a dad to a 9-year-old boy who will soon be a big brother.

Congratulations to Perry + Bloom!

News

Pink opened up about her family's fight against coronavirus late Friday, taking to Instagram to make a big announcement.

"Two weeks ago my three-year old son, Jameson, and I are were showing symptoms of COVID-19," Pink revealed, noting that she tested positive and has since recovered.

She continued: "My family was already sheltering at home and we continued to do so for the last two weeks following the instruction of our doctor. Just a few days ago we were re-tested and are now thankfully negative. It is an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not make testing more widely accessible. This illness is serious and real."

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After dealing with the virus on a personal level and recognizing her privilege in being able to access testing, Pink decided to donate $1 million to fight coronavirus and hopefully protect others.

"In an effort to support the healthcare professionals who are battling on the frontlines every day, I am donating $500,000 to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund in Philadelphia in honor of my mother, Judy Moore, who worked there for 18 years in the Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplant Center. Additionally, I am donating $500,000 to the City of Los Angeles Mayor's Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund," she announced via Instagram.

Pink ended her update by thanking the brave healthcare workers on the front lines and reminding the rest of us to stay home.

For more information on COVID-19 and how it is impacting families, visit mother.ly/coronavirus.

News

On Friday President Trump announced that the Centers for Disease Control is now advising people to wear a cloth mask if they need to go out in public. It's not a rule, he says, but a recommendation.

"It's really going to be a voluntary thing," President Trump told reporters. "I'm not choosing to do it."

First Lady Melania Trump is urging others to do it, tweeting, "As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone—we can stop this together."

What the CDC says about cloth face masks:

The CDC says it's recommending cloth face masks because recent studies show that people can have COVID-19 while asymptomatic, meaning they feel fine and because they don't know they are sick they might still be going about their daily routine in their community.

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Basically, masks don't protect the wearer as much as they protect people from the wearer (who might not know they are sick) by blocking respiratory droplets

"So it's not going to protect you, but it is going to protect your neighbor," Dr. Daniel Griffin at Columbia University, an expert on infectious diseases, tells NPR.

CDC experts are "advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure."

They say if you're going somewhere where it's hard to maintain the proper social distance of six feet, like a grocery store or a pharmacy, then it's a good idea to wear a simple cloth mask.

"The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance," the CDC states.

"You may need to improvise a cloth face covering using a scarf or bandana," the agency notes on its website.

A DIY cloth mask is an extra layer of protection:

The CDC still says that staying home and practicing good hand hygiene is the best protection against COVID-19, but a cloth mask would be an extra layer of protection if you must go out to get food or unavoidable medical care.

According to Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, certain types of fabric are better than others when it comes to making a mask. While he CDC says improvised bandanas or scarfs are better than nothing, Segal says DIY mask makers should aim a little higher for the masks to be effective.

"You have to use relatively high-quality cloth," Dr.Segal, who is researching this topic, tells NBC News.

According to Segal you don't want to use a knit fabric (like an old T-shirt) but rather a woven fabric. He suggests a double layer of heavyweight cotton with a thread count of at least 180 (like quilters cotton). If you don't have a cotton with that high of a thread count, line it with flannel.

For more tips on how to sew a fabric face mask, check out these instructions from Kaiser Permanente.

No-sew methods:

If you're not a sewer you can still fashion a mask, and there are plenty of no-sew tutorials online showing you how. Use heavyweight woven fabric like Segal suggests and make one of these without a sewing machine.

How To Make a Pleated Face Mask // Washable, Reusable, No-Sewing Required youtu.be

Should kids wear masks? Talk to your doctor.

The CDC is not recommending masks if you're just going for a walk around the block or playing in the backyard (which is the extent of most kids' outings these days). The masks are more for grocery runs, which many parents are opting to do alone these days.

But solo parents and those with partners who are in the military know that leaving the kids behind isn't always an option if you're the only adult in the home. If that's your circumstance, choose delivery options when possible to avoid taking your children to public places like grocery stores and pharmacies (the kinds of places the CDC recommends masks for).

If you are concerned that you may need to take your child somewhere where a mask would be required, call your pediatrician for advice on whether a mask is appropriate for your child's age and circumstances. Babies' faces should not be covered.

If you have no one to watch your children while you get groceries and cannot get them delivered try contacting your local government, community groups and churches for leads on grocery delivery help. They may be able to put you in touch with someone who can fetch groceries for you so that you don't have to take your children to the store with you.

News

Starting this weekend Target and Walmart will be limiting the number of people allowed in its stores to give shoppers and staff more space to spread out and adhere to social distancing recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Beginning April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside based on the store's specific square footage," Target notes in a news release.

Walmart's corporate message is similar: "Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store's capacity."

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At Target you will also notice staff wearing gloves and masks over the next two weeks as the company steps up its coronavirus protection measures.

Many people are choosing to stay home and order groceries online, but that's not an option for everyone as long lines at some Target's prove.

"We're incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we'll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them," says Target's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, John Mulligan.

Target is open this weekend but—along with Costco, Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe's—Target stores will be closed on Easter Sunday to give the essential employees in these stores a much-deserved break.

News
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