Bay Area Kids Aug/Sept 2010

Page 34

“One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.” — Erma Bombeck


ow can I tell which preschool is best for my kids? How soon do I need to save for my newborn’s education? What’s the best type of car seat to buy for my baby? The litany of questions feels like an endless torrent. Parents are anxious about getting this thing called parenthood right. To their rescue are a number of Bay Area companies positioned to shepherd parents on their kid-raising journey. Some of their business models are a sign of the times, reflecting the desire of parents to raise their kids in a “green” economy. Other business models have been around for centuries, finding fresh relevance in the current generation’s needs. All of these companies understand that the Bay Area, with its burgeoning parent population, is a fertile market for their services. More heart than science: childcare matchmaking

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Bay Area Kids

Want to generate some lively conversation among parents? Mention the cost of childcare. According to a National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) 2008 study, California was the fifth most expensive state in the union for full-time infant care, with parents spending on the average annually &11,580 per infant and $8,234 per four-year old. At these prices it’s no wonder that parents are determined to get the very best care possible. Along with their feelings of entitlement are their feelings of vulnerability—they want to feel that their children are safe and happy when they spend the day outside of their parents’ gaze. Providing these parents with that secure feeling is the mission of Dr. Missy Garvin, founder and president of San Francisco-based CARE: Childcare Assessment through Research and Evaluation. “Lots of my clients are first time parents,” says Dr. Garvin. “They may have heard of someone else’s negative childcare experiences or

have experienced it first hand with their children. Often the root cause is that the center in question is not a good fit for the child.” Beware of well-meaning friends

Garvin works with children under the age of five, assessing them for both childcare and pre-school environments. “I talk with the parents, helping them formulate the questions they should be asking, and I also play with the child,” she says. “If the child is shy, I like to do observations of him in an actual care setting.” Sometimes parents have a particular daycare center in mind, one recommended by their friends. “This is a common situation that may pose a problem” Garvin adds. “What may be a great fit for your friend’s child may not be a good fit for yours.” Another misconception, says Garvin, is that parents tend to make a direct correlation between quality and centers with a wait-list. “While it’s true that many centers have long wait lists, these lists are no real indication of their value. When parents lose their jobs, they often pull their kids out of day care. Consequently, many daycare and preschool centers are closing for lack of customers. These closures make families compete for the few slots available in the centers that remain open.” Planning for the Big Event

Besides focusing on day and preschool care, many expecting parents are overwhelmed by the array of decisions they need to make at every stage in the process of pregnancy through delivery. So it’s no surprise that companies that can help parents make informed decisions will find willing customers. Amy Kux is a San Francisco Bay Area-based Itsabelly baby planner, one of a team of associated baby planners who share information with their clients about relevant products and services. “As a first time mom,” Kux says, “I was advised by my