Web initiative helps parents find the right daycare

Milwaukee native Oren Ben-Ami and his Israeli-born wife Heli are the creators of MyModiin.com.

Placing a young child into a kindergarten or daycare facility is never an easy task, but now, thanks to an innovative project by a Modi'in-based couple, choosing a safe place for your child might be a little easier. Milwaukee native Oren Ben-Ami and his Israeli-born wife Heli are the creators of MyModiin.com, a Web-based resource offering in-depth information on more than half of all private daycare facilities in the Modi'in area. "The virtual tour of the daycare is the most popular feature," said Ben-Ami, who made aliya just over 10 years ago from Wisconsin. "The letters of recommendations from parents are good too." The growing number of nanny abuse cases and stories of kindergarten neglect have made it increasingly difficult for parents to find the right place for their child. According to Dr. Yitzhak Kadmon, director of the National Council for the Child, not enough regulation or records were kept of preschool daycare institutions. His organization has issued what it called the "Ten Golden Rules for Choosing a Nanny." Among the guidelines, the council suggested conducting personal interviews with the nanny or teacher and requesting recommendations from other parents while not focusing solely on costs and work hours. As well as the virtual tour and letters of recommendation featured on MyModiin, there is also information on the number of children in the facility, the age groups cared for, the kind of food served, the educational philosophy and the backgrounds of the teachers. "The details offered on MyModiin mean that parents looking for daycare options do not have to bother with the basic questions such as how much it costs and how many children there are. When the parents finally visit the kindergarten and meet with the teacher, they can ask more important questions," said Ben-Ami, noting that many of the independent nannies in the area refused to be listed on the site because they operate below the radar of the Tax Authority. "All the kindergartens and daycares currently listed on MyModiin are legal businesses," Ben-Ami said. So far, MyModiin has more than 35 kindergarten and daycares listed. In addition to being a helpful resource for parents searching for daycare information, the daycares themselves have forums for parents whose children already attend that kindergarten. "Each kindergarten listed has a password-secure 'sub Web site' for parents to keep track of what their children are up to when they are not around," explained Ben-Ami. "The daycares can put up photos and information about the activities in the kindergarten." Ben Ami said that, for now, the resource was just for the Modi'in area, but plans are in process to create similar Web sites in a number of other areas. Kadmon was careful to point out to parents that the cases of abuse in child daycare in Israel were few, and that most child abuse was perpetrated by parents.