Daycare: The Saga Continues

As of my last daycare update, I was “on tour” having called two local daycares I had heard good things about. There are developments. By which I mean, there are no real developments and I’m still looking. Here’s what happened.

I called the first one on my list, which I liked a lot. A few friends sent their kids there, it is close to work, and part of a nice community of parents. I had a delightful conversation with the coordinator, and set up a tour. Which is when they sent me tuition information, and I promptly  had a panic attack.

The sticker price for this lovely little daycare? Over $30,000 a year. For reals, ladies and gentlemen. Daycare for Chick would cost me more than my last year of college– which included room and board! (Admittedly, I did go to college a while ago.)

But still, I went on the tour. I figured it can’t hurt to know what the Taj Mahal of Daycares looks like so I can compare it to the Shanty Town Daycare I will be able to afford.

Taj Mah Daycare is awesome. No, really. It goes all the way up to pre-kindergarten so transitions for children are easier. They have a developmental specialist on staff to help with lesson plans. Not to mention their teaching philosophy closely mirrors what I personally believe about education and discipline. And yet… $30K? No. Just no. I can’t pay that much, nor am I convinced that this is the best option for my family regardless of finances.

I realized that the more affordable option for me would be family day care, rather than larger centers. I’m totally down with this, but finding small family daycares is a lot harder than just googling. (The ONE time Google fails me!)  Where am I to find information about licensed caregivers?

Lucky for me, I live in a state that has one of the highest standards for licensing childcare providers, higher than the Federal standards. I took some solace in this as I jumped head first into a massive online database run by my state. I limited my criteria to a 5 mile radius… and came up with over 300 listings.

Unlike when I am shopping for shoes on Zappos, 300 returned results did not fill my heart with joy and possibility. Not to mention that there is bare bones information in each entry. Some included times, pricing, emails, etc. But the majority just included a name and a phone number. So this intrepid bird spent an entire afternoon sifting through that 300 narrowing it down to 25.

25. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable number. I should be able to find one daycare in a list of 25 that will take Chick in November. This is turning out to be a lot harder than I thought.

After my experience with the Taj, I got wise. Rather than nice-y nice talk with coordinators, I cut straight to the chase. First things first, I have to know availability and affordability. Getting this information is a lot harder than you’d think. There are at least two that were happily exchanging emails and returning calls… until I asked for tuition upfront. All communication has ceased.

So far, I have contacted 10 of the 25. Of the ones that have daned to return my calls, they are either not accepting infants in the fall or their tuition is astronomical. More than one has told me that they aren’t accepting students “mid-year”, a concept I find baffling since this is an INFANT we’re talking about. How was I supposed to know I should have timed my IVF for a September 1 start date?

Just as I was about to lose my shit (since that’s my new fave!) I actually got a polite and prompt call back from Our Radical Daycare*. Our Radical Daycare is pretty much perfect. It is 15 minutes away from home, on the way to work for both me and Mr. O. Accepting infants in November. AND within our budget. I almost peed myself with joy.

Mr. O and I went on a tour this morning. Our Radical Daycare is run by a middle-aged eastern European lady out of a big house with a back yard, along with four other caregivers on staff. The daycare has been in practice since 1998, and loads of kids have come through. She maintains close ties with her former students, some of whom come back and volunteer with the kids.

Um… I love her. She is warm, but also to the point. She took us through the house, explained how days were structured, how caregivers communicated with teachers, etc. In addition to the yard out back, there is a big park down the street where they take kids on warmer days. She answered our questions nicely, but with an efficiency I just adore. We came during drop off time, and all of the kids were so excited to be there. So damn cute

As we were leaving, she did encourage us to secure a spot (obviously, she is a saleswoman to a certain degree.) She gave us some additional information to take home, then followed up this afternoon with references for current parents.

Um… I LOVE HER.

Here’s the thing… Am I just jumping the gun because I’m desperate to find a daycare, and I’m striking out everywhere else? Or is Our Radical Daycare the one?

Is this true love or the sweet smell of desperation?


*Our Radical Daycare is a fictitious name. But then you probably knew that already.

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16 comments

  1. thebarrenlibrarian · April 10, 2015

    I’m just stuck on taj mahal daycare.

    Thirty. Thousand. A Year.

    We’re paying $6100 a year. ANd granted, we’re using the base daycare so that helps, but still. Thirty. Thousand. A Year. That was my take home from my full time job last year.

    Thirty. Thousand. A Year.

    • thecommonostrich · April 13, 2015

      I KNOW. It was hard not to laugh. Or cry. Or both.

      There is this whole subculture in my area of hyper competitive parenting, and I think that is part of what drives these price tags. If you have the money, fine. Spend it how you want.

      But back on earth where normal people live, $30K is above and beyond the limit.

      • thebarrenlibrarian · April 13, 2015

        Can I ask what the average price is for your area for daycare? Because now I’m curious!

      • thecommonostrich · April 13, 2015

        Oh, I researched the hell out of this. I wanted to know if I was crazy or if the Taj was crazy. Turns out it is the Taj, even when factoring average cost for my region.

        US average is about $11K a year, but for my state it is $16K. Admittedly for my specific geo, prices can be higher than that. But not $2500 a month. That’s outlandish.

      • thebarrenlibrarian · April 13, 2015

        Yeah that’s cuckoo. We’re going to pay 119 a week, and again, that’s subsidized by the military, but htat’s only slightly below average for our area. Still, it seems like so much money, probably because being in this part of the country we make a lot less money. 16K seems so high to me!

  2. Jenny F Scientist · April 10, 2015

    I’d call the parents and ask if anyone they knew was unhappy, drop in mid-day once if you can, and check the state violations database, but… whatever, it’s probably fine!
    And oh, Your Metro Area. So craaaaaazy.

    • thecommonostrich · April 13, 2015

      CRAZY is right. It’s so bizarrely competitive– one place I called told me that they wouldn’t have any openings until the summer of 2016. People put their kids on waiting lists before they have even conceived. FOR. REAL.

      Good suggestions on questions for the parents. I’m going to call them today. If all works out, I’m securing this spot and not thinking about it again until November.

  3. julieann081 · April 10, 2015

    Um, I don’t even make $30,000 a year. So, there’s that.

    I say follow your gut. I like Jenny’s suggestion of calling the references.

    • thecommonostrich · April 13, 2015

      Exactly. Mr. O and I had a brief conversation about one of us quiting our jobs, but then realized that there were much more affordable options out there. Whew!

  4. labmonkeyftw · April 10, 2015

    Yah, call references, and if you can, stop in or walk by again. But if you know what you are looking for (and you do, after all that research) and you FIND what you are looking for AND you like them to boot – go for it.

    • thecommonostrich · April 13, 2015

      After the weekend, I settled down a little and realized that this is probably “the one.” Or more like “the one that’s the most feasible for us.” Sure, I would love to send my kid to some place as fancy as Tah Mah Daycare, but I can’t rationalize spending that much money on childcare– even if I had a spare $30k a year just hanging out.

      I’m checking references today. If they all work out, I’ll be locking this DOWN.

  5. Tracy · April 11, 2015

    I just need to tell you that I love your sense of humor, but You know that already. I had my hubby read your post today! He about pee’d (is it peed?) his pants. 30 thousand a year! I don’t even make that much a year! Go with your gut. Ask if you can just swing by during the day. Let us know what they say!

    • thecommonostrich · April 13, 2015

      I figure if I don’t laugh about it, I’ll cry. Laughing at least makes me feel better (and I’m glad to hear it works for other folks too!)

      It was nuts. Granted, the Taj was really nice– the infant room was like some kind of Swedish spa, complete with soothing Enya-esque music and monotone decor. But unless that $30K also comes with a new car… I can’t see how average working parents afford it. (Clearly, they cater to the waaaaay above average.)

      I’m going to be calling references today. If they check out, I’ll be signing Chick up for November!

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