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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or not, you need time to run errands, take a night off, or take a brief trip every once in a while. You'll need to find the best caregiver possible when you turn the child over to the care of another person. Whether you need someone to care for your child a few hours a week, every day, or overnight, finding the right situation can be a big challenge. Of course, people who are hired to take care of other people's children can--and should be--responsible, mature, kind, and attentive, but recognize that they rarely will be as sacrificially committed to your children as you are. There are several types of caregivers and facilities: a relative or hired individual who comes to your home; a nonprofit, institutional child-care facility affiliated with a business, school, Y-M-C-A, or church; a for-profit child-care center, either an independent or part of a chain; or a caregiver's home. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and some are more suitable than others for children of specific ages. Be sure to check references and observe the person or facility at work for a day or two. Licensing requirements of professionals and facilities vary from state to state. Never trust your child to anyone until you feel confident about that person's or institution's abilities, dedication, and health and safety standards.

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