Parents seeking summer child care can tap into several information services in Lawrence.
At least three local agencies offer free lists of licensed or registered family care homes and child-care centers: the Lawrence/Douglas County Health Department, 336 Mo., which performs licensing and registering of day-care homes for the state; the Douglas County Child Development Assn. (DCCDA), 2619 W. Sixth; and Kansas University's Dependent Care Referral Service, 111 Carruth-O'Leary Hall.
DCCDA is a child advocacy group that provides a variety of services in support of local children; KU's agency, which also handles referrals for elderly people, is a public service offered through the university's department of human resources.
LISTS FROM DCCDA and KU focus on homes and centers that have openings, and both include other information about services provided by the places that are listed including ages of children served.
DCCDA also provides a variety of informational materials designed to help guide parents in search of appropriate child care.
Betty Peterson of the KU office noted she was able to save parents a good deal of ``telephone time'' by narrowing available options to better fit their needs through a computer selection process.
Melanie Owens, a licensed family day-care provider whose name is on the current lists, said she'd had several calls for summer care but didn't have any openings.
"It's mostly for school-aged children," she said, "and I have the little ones."
SHE SUGGESTED parents needing summer care focus their inquiries on providers who offered before- and after-school care during the school year, information that is on the lists.
Many providers who handle younger children are not geared to handle those of school age.
Owens said she found being a family child-care provider an interesting business and noted parents today were looking for professionalism and stablility in those they hired to tend their children.
June Smith, a retired teacher who is a licensed home child-care provider offering day and evening care, said parents seemed so appreciative when they found a provider who gave good care.
Smith said she too had been receiving lots of calls for summer care, but her callers had been parents with infants and others who needed part-time care.
UNFORTUNATELY, she added, she had a waiting list that sported infants who wouldn't even be born until next year.
"It keeps us busy just keeping things straight," she said.
Smith suggested parents scrutinize caregivers by looking first for a loving environment and then at their facility, checking for cleanliness and appropriate toys kept within the children's reach.
She added it was a good idea to ask to see a caregiver's license and health report and to find out what kind of discipline was used with the children, particularly whether they offered redirection or said "No" repeatedly.
"Do they lift their voices a lot to the children?" she asked rhetorically. "Are the children happy?"
Copies of provider lists are available from the health department, 843-0721; DCCDA, 842-9679, or the KU referral service, 864-4648.