Education
HOME CARE OPTIONS
— Nannies
Nannies are employed by the family on either a live-in or live-out, part-time or full-time basis, to undertake all tasks related to the care of children. Duties generally are restricted to child care and the domestic tasks related to the children. The nanny may or may not have had formal training, though often has extensive child care experience and a background in early childhood education. Typically, full-time employed nannies will work 40–60 hours per week. Usually work is unsupervised.

According to the International Nanny Association (INA) (www.nanny.org), you can look for a nanny in many places, including help-wanted ads in newspapers and magazines, bulletin boards and referrals from friends. These approaches can be time-consuming and also can result in negative experiences. The association suggests that you contact nanny training programs about the availability of their graduates or that you take advantage of the services offered by nanny placement agencies.

A placement agency is a service company that matches the skills and qualifications of nannies with the needs of families looking for in-home child care. The agency charges a fee to locate and screen nannies for you to consider hiring for your family. A reputable agency will carefully consider your needs and preferences when helping you find a suitable candidate. Placement fees range from $800 to $5,000 and should include a provision to replace the nanny or refund a portion of the fee if the placement does not work out within a certain period of time.

As part of its screening process, the agency should verify the nanny candidate’s personal and employment references and previous child care experience. Many agencies also take nanny fingerprints, check for a criminal record, check the driving record and require a blood test, TB test and/or request a doctor’s statement that the candidate is in good health and free of contagious diseases. Some agencies also require psychological testing or evaluation. In the United States, the agency should verify that the candidate is an American citizen or eligible to work legally in the country.

Just as the agency will want to ensure that nannies referred to you are suitable candidates, for the nanny’s protection, the agency also may ask you for references. Most agencies will assist you in preparing a job description that summarizes your family’s job duties, compensation package and other important considerations.

Many placement-agency owners are members of INA, and the association suggests that you select an INA member if you decide to use a placement agency’s services to help you locate a nanny.

— Au Pair
Au Pairs are foreign nationals between the ages of 18–26 who enter the United States through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Au Pair Exchange Program allows participants to experience American life for up to 24 months. Au Pairs in good standing can apply to extend their initial 12- month visit an additional six, nine or 12 months. Au Pairs participate in the life of the host family by providing limited child care services (maximum 10 hours per day, 45 hours per week) and are compensated for their work according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Au Pairs may not be placed in homes with infants three months of age or younger unless a parent or responsible adult will be in the home supervising the Au Pair. An Au Pair may not be placed in the home with a child two years of age or younger unless they have 200 or more hours of documented child care experience.

PRE-K AND KINDERGARTEN
Denver also has many child care initiatives and programs to choose for your child. The Denver Great Kids Head Start (DGKHS) program helps children ages 3–5 get ready to attend elementary school. Low-income children and their families enrolled in DGKHS also are enrolled in The 5 by 5 Project, a program that gives free admission to 15 of Denver’s cultural attractions.

Another program open to all Denver families is the Denver Preschool Program (DPP). DPP offers tuition credits for children enrolled in participating programs during their last year of preschool. The DPP’s goal is to make preschool an affordable option for all children and their families.

Colorado has a long history of dedication to pre-Kindergarten programs, too. In 1988, the state launched the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) to help at-risk preschoolers. Since its creation, the program has helped more than 250,000 preschoolers. In 2012, CPP enrolled 19,480 preschoolers across the entire state.

COLORADO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The Denver metro is served primarily by 13 public school districts. However, students in Denver are allowed to attend whatever school they want because of Colorado’s open-enrollment policy. Colorado is an education choice state, and parents and children are encouraged to find the best educational setting and tools that will help them succeed. This allows students and parents to choose the school that best fits their educational and location needs. As a testament to Colorado’s educational ability, since 2011, the state is one of the seven in the country that mandates that all public high school 11th graders to take the ACT as part of graduation requirements.

   
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