I need some help please, and I'm pleading with my readers to give me some advice. I'm having a dilemma, and I don't know what to do - I'm having another daycare issue. For those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I've got just about the worst luck with childcare. Ever. Here's a quick recap:
Miss A's daycare - G started out at an in-home daycare. Miss A was wonderful, and G loved her. Unfortunately, after just a few months she had to quit doing daycare because of some family problems.
Miss J's daycare - Luckily, I license all the daycares in town, and I had recently licensed Miss J. I was able to get G enrolled to start the very next week, but after only about 2 months of G being there, I got a call one day at about 10am that Miss J was closing her daycare, and that I needed to come pick up G. I had actually been looking one for a new place anyway, because something bad happened there one day, and I didn't feel comfortable with G being there anymore.
My neighbor T - After Miss J closed, I had a difficult time finding daycare. We were living in the small town where I also work, and there just weren't many childcare options. After one awful place, I broke down in tears right at the same time my neighbor T came over (I think to borrow a dinner ingredient). I think she felt sorry for me, so she offered to take G until I could find somewhere else. She had 4 other kids, and one special-needs daughter, and G wasnt' happy there. Apparently she would cry for hours and T would lock her in a back bedroom because she didnt' know what else to do (G never cried for anyone else - in fact, there were days that she didnt' cry at all. This was extremely difficult)
Miss S - Miss S opened a new, small commercial daycare, and I moved G there. It was a great place, and G was very happy. But, Miss S had to close after about a year, because of some stupid clause in the state code that said she couldnt' run a commercial daycare from a house in a residential zone, unless she lived there - and she didnt' live there.
KIDS - Luckily, around this time, another commercial daycare opened in town. I moved G over the same week Bryn was born. Both girls were there for 2 years. At first, it was a great place, but it gradually went downhill. Finally one day, another teacher (who was quitting) told me to call the State and check on the center. I called, and was appalled to hear the many violations the center had. I pulled my girls out that very day.
Miss O - again, as luck would have it, my (newly divorced) neighbor had just opened a daycare, and had 2 more spots at her in-home daycare. My girls have been going there since April, and they love it. Miss O is great with them, and my girls are very happy there. She provides a religious environment, and my girls have made great friends with them.
The problem is: we just found out this morning, that she is raising rates. A lot. Her rates are going up by $5 a day per child, which may not seem like much, but it adds up to about $180 a month. I've called around, and she is more expensive than most places now - even before her rates go up. I love her, and my kids love her, but that is a lot of money to us. Our budget is stretched pretty thin as it is, and $180 more is going to be difficult for us to even pay.
I do love Miss O, and my kids love her too, but there are a few cons with her daycare:
#1 - the kids watch a lot of TV there
#2 - she doesn't have a preschool program (the other commercial centers my kids have gone to offer preschool)
#3 - she doesn't have a lot of structure (again, the other centers have been much more structured as far as nap time, meal time, etc)
#4 - when G starts school next year, I will have to find a way for her to get to school
I found a center that is only 2 miles from my house. It is clean, bright, and safe. They have an excellent preschool program and is very structured (according to on-line reviews). It is also just down the street from the elementary that G will go to, and they transport. The best part is that it is $13 a day cheaper than the in-home place where my kids now attend - that would save approximately $230 a month! I know my kids would be sad to have to move to a new place - but they do make friends easily, and I don't think the transition would be too traumatic.
And all this is further complicated by the fact that Miss O and I have become friends. She's also my neighbor and a member of my church congregation, so I can't burn bridges.
So - I'm stuck. Should I keep my kids where they are happy, although it is more expensive? Or should I move them to a more structured, yet cheaper place? Please, please, help me make this decision.