There generally is no right or wrong with regard to whether you should leave your kids in the care of a drop-off center or with an individual babysitter or nanny. The decision is largely a matter of personal preference and what your budget can handle. But when it comes to your children's safety, nothing is more important than doing everything you can to make sure that whatever arrangement you make is carried out as smoothly as possible and that your children's safety and well-being is never in jeopardy.
While no one likes to think of the possibility that their child might get sick or be hurt while in care, it can happen. By avoiding taking unnecessary risks and only leaving your kids in the care of someone known to be capable and trustworthy, in the event of an emergency, your kids will be in good hands. But it is wrong to leave all of the responsibility in the hands of the caregiver. The following are a dozen important dos and don'ts for you to be mindful of in order to ensure that the safety of your children is not in any way compromised.
1. Plan ahead of time. Don't expect to find a competent caregiver at the last minute. Allow enough time to carefully check out several possibilities so you won't necessarily feel compelled to accept the first service or individual who agrees to take the job. If, rather than using a licensed service, you plan to hire an individual you don't know for the first time, a proper background check and personal interview are essential. Give the selection process as much attention as if you were a personnel officer selecting a candidate for an important job, because that is exactly what you are doing.
2. Only select a service that has been highly recommended by your hotel or that you have determined through your own research to be reliable and have good recommendations.
3. The caregiver must be an experienced professional, properly licensed and insured, and certified in CPR and First-Aid.
4. If you plan on bringing your child(ren) to a childcare facility, take a tour of the place beforehand and make sure that it is clean and well maintained and that there are no safety hazards (like objects lying around in inappropriate places that could cause a child to fall or have an injury). Another thing you need to check is security. There can be no way a child can wander off alone or an unauthorized person can gain entry. If there is anything you see that troubles you, this is not the time to give the facility the benefit of the doubt. If at all possible, arrange this close look at the facility the day before you need childcare, so if it is not going to work out, you have enough time to make a different arrangement.
If your children will be cared for in your hotel room, make sure that the room is immaculate and free of safety hazards. Keep your own medications or any non-edible substances your child might accidentally ingest out of reach.
5. If you have a child with any health problems such as diabetes, asthma, or allergies or any restrictions in diet or activity, the caregiver needs to know. If the child needs to take any medication while in care, explicit instructions must be given as to timing and dosage. Also provide clear instructions regarding mealtimes or snacks and permissible and non-permissible foods and beverages. If a child has specific food allergies (e.g., peanuts or gluten), make sure to tell the caregiver.
6. Do not lie about a child's age. Most childcare facilities have very strict rules on the age ranges they can accept, so if your child's age does not fall in that range, you should take it to mean that the facility is not properly equipped to care for children of that age. Some facilities might refuse to take children who cannot walk or are not yet toilet trained. You are not doing your child any favor if he or she is still in diapers and the facility is not informed and does not have the staff to handle a possible problem. When children of a certain age are considered too old to be accepted for a childcare facility, it is also for a valid reason. Most likely, there are no suitable activities for children of that age, so such a child would quickly become bored.
7. Also be forthright about any intellectual or physical disabilities or behavior problems. It is much better to have a childcare service say "No, we can't accept your child" than to conceal important information and have a serious problem develop because of it. Some facilities might be better equipped than others to handle the special needs of a child who is mentally or physically handicapped, but in fairness to the caretakers as well as for the child's own safety, this kind of information about a child should never be withheld. Children with serious behavior problems probably need to be cared for by a qualified individual. The people who run these centers are not psychiatrists or therapists and they are not trained, nor is it their responsibility, to keep an out-of-control child from self-injury or hurting anyone else. Always keep in mind that when you bring a child to a group care center, there are going to be other children there, too. Children who are likely to be disruptive and unmanageable could make other kids feel uncomfortable as well as put them at possible risk for being hurt.
8. Share cell phone numbers with the caregiver and stay in communication with that person periodically while she has responsibility for your child(ren).The caretaker should be able to reach you readily in case of emergency, but also just to check in with you to assure you that all is well. If this individual is responsible, you will be provided with frequent text messages or phone calls and, ideally, a couple of pictures so you can see your child is comfortable and happy.
It is also essential that you know your children's whereabouts at all times. While every situation is different, if you are having a babysitter or nanny come to your hotel room to watch your child(ren), you and the caregiver might agree on certain activities outside the hotel (such as using the hotel swimming pool or seeing a movie). If that is the case, the caregiver has the responsibility to keep you informed where they are at any given time. Under no circumstances is a caregiver to take a child outside of the hotel room without your express permission. In addition, you need to be kept informed of your child(ren)'s whereabouts at all times.
9. Babysitters or nannies should not be allowed to take children who do not know how to swim to the hotel (or any other) swimming pool.
10. Don't use a childcare service if your child has a fever, infection, or possibly contagious illness. While professional babysitters and nannies ideally have basic knowledge of symptoms to look out for and how to get medical help if needed, they are not doctors. You are paying them to make sure your child is safe and well cared for, not to treat them medically. Also, if you are taking a child to a childcare facility, out of consideration for the other kids, keep in mind that any form of exposure to your child's blood or germs would put them at unnecessary risk.
11. If you try to call the caregiver and no one answers, call the service owner. Also call hotel security. Someone will go to the room and make sure your child is all right. If you have taken your child(ren) to a drop-off facility and you cannot get through to anyone, call the police.
12. Return at the agreed upon time. Or, if there is an unexpected delay, communicate that information and the new planned arrival time as soon as possible. Don't leave the caregiver hanging.
If you follow these simple guidelines, in all likelihood your childcare experience will go smoothly. There is no reason why you cannot take young children with you on your Las Vegas vacation because there is plenty for them to do. During your stay, if you want to allow yourself a little "me" time while you arrange for childcare, that is fine, too, provided you do so with with sufficient forethought and proper regard for your children's safety.