GUEST BLOG BY LÉANA LU
Léana recently joined The Gosselin Group and we are so pleased that she is on board and open to writing some monthlty guest blogs. As a mother myself who moved to Northern New Jersey from Brooklyn, New York back in 2008, one of my first priorities as a working mom was to find quality child care. The options can be overwhelming, but options are good thing! Read on for Léana's great overview of the childcare options in our surrounding towns. I could have used this list when I first moved here!
Childcare in South Orange, Maplewood, New Jersey
By Léana Lu
The #1 question I get from clients and friends who are moving to the Maplewood/South Orange (SOMA) area is what are my childcare options? It may feel overwhelming to start the search anew when you are comfortable with your childcare in the city. It may feel nerve racking to have to interview nannies or day care providers for the first time, you may not even know where to find these providers! I’m here to help. I have two children, ages 6 and 18 months. I had a wonderful nanny share in Brooklyn and I have the same here in Maplewood. I researched day care options, preschools, au pairs, and nannies and I want to share what I’ve found.
Day Care: There are several great options in the SOMA area for full-time day care. The most popular day care in town is the South Mountain YMCA. Children may be enrolled as early as 6 weeks. The caregiver to child ratio is 1:3 for infants and that caregiver will stay with your child until age 3. There are indoor and outdoor play spaces, crafts, music, and story time. They are open 7 AM to 7 PM, and they are flexible about allowing you to use them full or part-time depending on your schedule. They offer care up to age 5. They also provide before and after school care for the whole school district. Many people walk here or take the jitney here to drop off their child and then hop on the train to work. My son has gone to the YMCA for summer camp and can’t wait to go back!
Another great option is Village Babies. They take children from 6 weeks to 5 years starting with a 1:3 adult/child ratio with infants and moving up to a 1:8 ratio. That’s a lot of individual attention! They offer a daily Spanish immersion program, weekly yoga classes, chess lessons, field trips, and an optional organic meal plan. They are conveniently located between the South Orange and Maplewood train stations.
Our Lady of Sorrows on Prospect St takes children from 6 weeks to 3 years. They allow you to park in their parking lot and walk to the train, which is very convenient!
I have links and information to several more reputable daycare options.
Preschool: The one thing you should know about most preschools around here, though, is that they are half-day programs. This works best if you have a flexible schedule or have an alternative childcare provider to pick up your child from school. The few exceptions are the preschools attached to daycares as mentioned above.
The other important thing you should know is that most of the preschools are not difficult to get into. There is rarely a waiting list like in the city. No more waiting in line at 4 AM to get your child into preschool!
Some popular options are: Prospect Coop Nursery School, South Orange Country Day School, The Iris Family Center at Sharey-Tefilo, Playhouse Nursery School (West Orange), Preschool of Beth El, Mickey Fried Nursery School, and Morrow Memorial Preschool.
How to find a nanny in NJ:
The most convenient ways to find a nanny in the SOMA area are through Maplewood Online, Care.com, and SitterCity. I have personally found two great part-time nannies through Maplewood Online and Care.com. Both websites are open to anyone, although Care.com charges a nominal fee. The fee covers free background checks and pre-written emails accepting or rejecting requests. As always, when searching for childcare help, you have to weed out the people who may not be best for your particular situation. Definitely call all references!
Other options in finding a nanny include Seton Hall Sitters, or joining a parent group such as Mothers and More, or Maplewood Moms on Facebook. People often post on behalf of their nannies when their children outgrow the use of a nanny.
Information on Au Pairs:
The one thing I hear again and again when people are considering getting an au pair is the lack of privacy. Most of the homes in the Maplewood/South Orange area are spacious and have plenty of room for an au pair. Au pairs typically have extensive training and must take a college course during their stay. They cannot work more than 45 hours per week and they are paid a flat fee. For some families they are an affordable and flexible option. They typically stay one year, with a maximum of two years. Usually, when they are not working, they are going to school, hanging out with their friends, or exploring NYC. Most often, the benefits of having an au pair outweigh any inconvenience of having a non-family member living in your home. Many friends claim they love exposing their kids to other languages, food, and ideas from their au pair’s home country and often maintain close relationships with the au pairs after they go back home.
I have a list of Au Pair organizations and testimonials from families who use au pairs if you would like some more information.
For more information on any of these options please email me at email@example.com.