Finding a Daycare in Alexandria VA
Finding the best daycare in Alexandria VA can be challenging – there are a lot of options to consider and the cost can be significant depending on your needs. In this article, we’ll outline all the most popular daycare options in Alexandria and their benefits.
In a traditional daycare/pre-school, children attend daycare at a licensed business located in a commercial facility. These daycares often have the most robust resources of all the childcare options – they can typically care for both infants and toddlers, have sizeable playgrounds, and have a formal learning curriculum. Their hours usually range from 7 am – 5:30 pm and they often offer meals for the older children, making it the most accommodating option for many parents.
Who It’s Best For
Traditional daycares/pre-schools are often the best option for parents who need more flexible timing or more child care hours since they’re open 10-11 hours and you usually don’t have to pay extra if your child stays longer on a particular day. They’re also great for socialization since your child will be part of a classroom and will be able to make friends with other kids.
Cons of Traditional Daycare/Pre-school
Traditional daycares/pre-schools can often have long wait lists in Alexandria, particularly for infants. Many parents in Alexandria do best when they put their child on the waiting list as soon as they know their due date during pregnancy. If there is a particular program you want your child to attend, then it’s a good idea to call them right away to find out their average wait time so that you can plan accordingly.
Tips for Finding the Best Traditional Daycare/Pre-School
- Call the daycare/pre-school you’re interested in and arrange to set up a tour. While you’re there, evaluate whether the daycare makes sense for your family – do the children there seem happy and well cared for? How is the communication between the parents and staff?
2. Be sure to look up reviews. If possible, check out the local Facebook parent groups and talk to other parents with children in that daycare – how do they like it? What challenges have they experienced?
3. Check out the commute – does it work for your family? Is it convenient enough for your home or place of work?
4. Find out what the communication will be like – will the daycare send photos of your child, or do they have a video app? How often will you get to talk with your child’s caretaker about their progress?
In a home daycare, children attend daycare in a licensed facility in a personal residence. Home daycares are typically much smaller than traditional daycares since they often have only 1-3 caretakers and still have to adhere to the child/caretaker ratio specified by the state. Their hours range from 7 am-5:30 pm and they are usually less expensive than traditional daycare.
Who It’s Best For
Home daycares are a great option for families who need more child care hours at a slightly more affordable cost. They also tend to have good communication between families and caretakers, since you’re working directly with the business owner. They’re also great for socialization since your child will be part of a group and will be able to make friends with other kids.
Cons of Home Daycares
Home daycare options can be tougher to find since they’re not as well advertised and have smaller capacities than traditional daycares. They also may not offer as rigorous a curriculum as a traditional daycare, since they have fewer staff and can’t always tailor lessons to the full age range of children they care for.
Tips for Finding the Best Home Daycare
- Ask parents you know or in local Facebook groups if they know of any great home daycares. Ask them about their experience and what they have/haven’t liked.
- Schedule a tour to see the facility in person. While you’re there, evaluate whether the daycare makes sense for your family – do the children there seem happy and well cared for? Does the facility seem safe? How do the children spend their day?
- Verify that the home daycare is licensed and insured.
Au Pair/Live-In Nanny
Au Pairs and Live-in nannies are caretakers who reside in your personal residence and also provide childcare during specified hours. Au pairs typically come from outside the US and reside here for a period of time while they work and attend school part-time. Live-in nannies may be local residents. During their tenure, you’ll provide housing (and in the case of au pairs, you’ll often provide transportation) as well as a reasonable stipend for a 40-hour work week.
Who It’s Best For
Because you’re providing room and board, the out-of-pocket cost for an au pair or a live in nanny is typically much less than for a traditional daycare. And although au pairs are limited to a 40-hour work week, they can be a great option for parents who prefer not to manage the daily daycare dropoff. It’s definitely best for parents who have an additional space in their homes, preferably that includes a private bathroom, and can give this up to the au pair.
Cons of Au Pairs/Live-In Nannies
Since au pairs are limited to a 40 hour work week, this option may not work as well for parents that need additional hours of child care (however, local live-in nannies may be able to work overtime for additional pay). It also requires giving up space (and privacy) in your home, which can feel awkward at first.
Tips for Finding the Best Au Pair/Live-in Nanny
- For live-in nannies in Alexandria, VA, check out care.com, which is a great resource to find all types of childcare in the local area.
- For au pairs, talk with a childcare consultant at a reputable au pair agency, like Cultural Care. They’ll set up an interview to talk about your needs, whether you have any preference as to where your au pair hails from, and help you set up interviews with potential au pairs.
- Talk with your potential au pairs about their experience with kids and their goals while living in Alexandria to make sure that you’ll be a good fit for each other.
With a nanny or nanny share, the nanny typically comes to your home during the day (or, in the case of a nanny share, they might come to another individual’s home where you drop off your child and “share” their time). With nannies, kids typically get more one-on-one attention, since it’s often just your child/children (or perhaps 1-2 other children in a nanny share) whom the nanny cares for. Most nannies/nanny shares are for full-time child care, 40 hours/week, though some nannies may be willing to work overtime or parttime depending on their and your needs.
Who It’s Best For
Dedicated nannies can be a great option for parents who prefer not to manage the daily daycare dropoff. If you’re doing a nanny share, you may be able to arrange for the nanny to be at your home part of the time, and the other parents’ home for the other part, so that you only have to do a dropoff during some weeks. It’s also a good option for parents who want their kids to have more individual attention from a caretaker, and who want more communication with the caretaker.
Cons of Nannies/Nanny Shares
Of all the childcare options in Alexandria, nannies are the most expensive. This is why many Alexandriafamilies look to offset the cost by sharing a nanny with another family. There is typically less socialization with other kids when working with a nanny, since nannies usually care for children inside the home and there may be fewer opportunities for interaction.
Tips for Finding the Best Nanny/Nanny Share in Alexandria
- Check out the local parent Facebook groups and see if anyone is interested in doing a nanny share, or if they already have a nanny and would be willing to start a share arrangement.
- If looking for a dedicated nanny, check out care.com, where you can read resumes of Alexandria nannies and message them to set up an interview.
- Be sure to ask your potential nanny for references and do a background check. You can obtain a background check through care.com if you’re using their platform.
Finding a daycare or childcare in Alexandria, VA can be challenging, but once you find the right fit for your family, you’ll be glad you did your homework!