When Latchkey Isn’t Legal: Daycare For Older Children

If you and your family have just moved to a new location outside your old city, you might have to do some scrambling and fast rearranging of your schedules if you have children under the age of 12. Depending on what your family’s new work and school schedules are like, you could find yourselves in violation of the law if your children will be home alone. If you find yourself in this situation, take a look at local daycare centers. Sometimes these centers offer afterschool supervision for older children.

For Any Child Who Needs Supervision

Daycare isn’t limited to infants, toddlers, and very young children. Any child who isn’t able to be left alone for a few hours is a potential daycare participant. Some centers might have their own limits; for example, you might find a center that specializes in daycare for children under 5 years of age. But others have more open policies.

It might seem strange sticking a nine-year-old child into daycare, but if you can’t send them anywhere else where they’d be supervised, daycare is the best option. As mature as your child might seem, the city, county, or state that you’ve moved to might disagree. For example, the city of Albuquerque prohibits children 10 and younger from staying home alone.

Rather than violate that and hope that no one finds out, you really do need to find some place that your child can go after school. If the child’s school has afternoon programs, that’s one option. But if you can’t find any specific activities, then you do have to look for a daycare center.

Start With the School

Ask the child’s school if they have any recommendations. You can also check with youth centers in the area; even if those centers are too far away or don’t have room for your child, they still might be able to point you toward potential daycare places. Ensure the center meets state licensing requirements and try to ask other parents if they have experience with the center.

Bring your child to the center to have a look around — try not to go there yourself and hope you can evaluate it correctly. Don’t be surprised if your child claims not to like it at first; it’s possible he or she just doesn’t want to deal with daycare and see yet more new faces in a new city. Do listen to your child if he or she continues to be uncomfortable, though; sometimes a particular center just isn’t a good match for a child.

See what activities the center has for older children. If the center has lots of toys for 5-year-olds but nothing for 10-year-olds, that’s a hint your child might not get a lot of attention. But if the center’s staff have activities geared toward older kids, then you know that your child won’t be sitting around, bored.

If you find out that your child will need to be in some sort of daycare after school each day, start calling centers now. The sooner you can get this settled, the better.

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