Pretty much the day after I found out I was pregnant, I started researching day care facilities near us. I had heard horror stories about waiting lists, sky-high tuition, etc. Since I will be returning to work full-time after my maternity leave is up, we needed to find full-time care. I liked the idea of the little one being out of the house during the day, hanging with little buddies and learning to get used to being around noise and groups of people, so we decided to actively explore day cares instead of nannies or nanny-shares.
Below is a list of centers we looked at- click on the links for location, contact info and hours of operations. I tried to include some info that's not necessarily listed on their websites, like fees and if there's a waiting list. Please note that this info may have changed since I first received it. I hope this brief guide can be helpful to others!
Labouré Child Care Center
I've lived in Southie for almost 9 years now, and walk by the Labouré Center on West Broadway several times a week; however, the tour we took in April was the first time I had been inside the building. The facility is very clean and safe, with 3 different rooms dedicated to infants and toddlers. The preschoolers are in a separate area; I was particularly impressed with preschool classrooms, as they were very bright and cheerful. The infant and toddler rooms seemed a little less inviting, but maybe that had something to do with the lighting. We met some infant teachers who were extremely friendly and took the time to answer our questions and tell us about a typical day. The Center staggers drop-off times, so when you're offered a spot, you're also told when you can drop off, which could potentially be inconvenient depending on when you have to be to work.
Fees for Infant/Toddler: $300 per week/$60 per day/$65 part time
Fees for Preschool: $215 per week/$43 per day
Waiting List: Daunting. We were told to call back after our baby is born to reiterate our interest and be added to the official waiting list.
The 2nd center we toured was...
KinderCare Learning Center on Atlantic Ave
This day care is not nearly as convenient to us as the Labouré Center would be, but there are enough bus and T options to make it work if you needed it to. This tour, unlike the first, took all of 15 minutes. Partly because the facility is a lot smaller and partly because the staff was busy juggling all the little ones being dropped off for the day. Overall, the center is very clean, bright and welcoming- just quite small. We also suffered a bit of sticker shock over the price, which they warned us goes up each September.
Fees for Infants (4 or 5 days): $493/week
Fees for Toddlers & Pre-School (4 or 5 days): $442/week
Fees for Pre-K (4 or 5 days): $347/week
Waiting List: None. They had spots available for late January/early February 2011.
2 other facilities we learned about, but haven't toured...
Bright Horizons at Harborview
Fees for Infants (5 days): $1875/month
Fees for Toddlers (5 days): $1550/month
Fees for Preschool (5 days): $1305/month
Waiting List: Unsure.
Columbia Point Infant and Toddler Day Care Program
Fees for Infants: $55/day
Waiting List: Unsure
Next we visited
As soon as I walked into Sunshine Child-Care, I was impressed. After walking past the check-in/reception area, I was greeted by a small group of pre-schoolers sitting at a round table: "Good morning, Miss!" This tour, like the KinderCare tour, lasted maybe 15 minutes, because the infants, toddlers, and preschools are in the same big room, although the areas are sectioned off. The staff were actively engaged with the children, the facility is clean and bright with a real classroom feel to it. As I was leaving, it was so cute to see a group of children sitting in a circle being read to; most of them eagerly had their hands up waiting to be chosen to answer a question about the story. You could tell that both kids and adults were having a good time. It should also be noted that Sunshine Child-Care is a multi-lingual facility, from their website: "All programs are staffed with bi-lingual teachers speaking English, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese, or both.)"
Fees for Infants (5 days): $275/week
Fees for Toddlers (5 days): $250/week
Fees for Preschool (5 days): $185/week
Waiting List: Depends on when you are hoping to enroll
And finally, we visited:
Ellis Memorial & Eldridge House's Infant/Toddler Program
We learned about Ellis Memorial from friends of ours who go there. The tour probably lasted about 45 minutes, as the facility is housed in the first floor of a larger building. The infants are on one side of the hall, and the toddlers are on the other. I can't remember how many infant rooms there are, but each one was clean and welcoming and the staff was very friendly. I met my friends' baby, who was happily bouncing on a teacher's knee when we walked in. They have evening programs that involve the parents and families, a lending library and an area to leave your stroller for the day since many parents use public transportation to drop off/pick up.
Fees for Infants: $325/week
Fees for Toddlers: $325/week
Fees for Preschool : $195/week
Waiting List: Yes, but can get on the list as soon as you fill out an application, versus having to wait until the baby is born.
Got all that? Phew! We've been busy, but thankfully have chosen one of these facilities and have firm childcare plans in place.