Greg, 29, Brenda, 34, Brian, 10, Jodi, 4, Amy, 2, of Valencia. - Family status: Married. - Occupations: Greg is project liaison representative for Rockwell International Corp., Palmdale. Brenda is senior buyer for Consolidated Control Corp., Valencia.
- Children in family: Brian, 10, (Greg's stepson), Jodi, 4, Amy, 2. - Age entered child care: All children were 2 years old. - Type of child care: Pinecrest School for daughters and after-school baby-sitting for son, who attends public school. - Monthly cost: $500 ($250 per child) for Pinecrest, lunch and snacks included; $107, after-school care. - Criteria for child care: Structured activities, close supervision, hot lunch, varied field trips. - Benefits: "I like the structure," Brenda said of Pinecrest. "They do a lot of arts and crafts projects. They can talk about the alphabet and shapes. They are so much more ahead. And they are able to learn to play with other children. There is a very loving staff." - Drawbacks: None with present arrangement. - Alternatives when child is sick: Unlicensed baby sitters or parents care for child. - Routine: Brenda leaves home at 7:15 a.m. to drop off daughters, works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., picks up daughters and son, who walks to sitter's or father's house from elementary school. Twice weekly, Greg picks up daughters. THE GREENBERGS
Mickey, 29, and B. J. (Bettyjane), 34, Daniel, 6, Evan, 3, Minda, 4 months, of Sherman Oaks
- Family status: Married
- Occupations: Mickey is a word processor for Yvette Berman Business Services, Los Angeles. B. J. is a bookkeeper for Harkitt Corp., Panorama City. - Age entered child care: Daniel, 2 1/2; Evan, 6 weeks; Minda, 11 weeks. - Type of child care: For Daniel, after-school care at grandparents' home. For Evan, Pixieland School, licensed Van Nuys preschool. For Minda, licensed baby sitter, Alice Nazarian, of North Hollywood. - Monthly cost: Evan, $112, two days weekly ($301 for five days weekly in September), drinks and snacks included. Minda, $279.
- Criteria in selecting child care: Depends on child's age. Initially, a licensed baby sitter living near B. J.'s parents' home. Later, a structured preschool offering credentialed teachers and creative activities. - Benefits: In regard to Evan: "We figured that, once he became 2 years old, he needed to be in a learning situation as opposed to a sitting situation," Mickey said. "Even though after 5 months he was still crying every day, we took him, he came home with a smile. It's helped him a lot. He verbalizes much better; he recognizes things. The thing we like about it the most is that they've been open for several years, and the same people who opened the school still own the school. For Minda, the biggest convenience is that her grandparents live near the sitter's home and pick her up at 5 p.m., then watch her until B. J. arrives at 5:15 p.m." Also, Mickey added, the sitter formerly watched Evan from age 6 weeks to 2 years, "so we know she honestly takes care of our child the way we would expect someone to." - Drawbacks: Preparing lunch for Evan; the school doesn't provide it, Mickey said. Since Minda is nursing, she misses two or three feedings daily and receives formula instead. In Mickey's routine, the inconvenience is simply "having to pack her up and take her."
- Alternatives when child is sick: Grandparents Don and Cyrille Garfield, of North Hollywood, retired parents of B. J. - Routine: During the school year, Mickey leaves apartment at 8 a.m., drops Daniel off at Riverside Elementary School; Evan, at Pixieland School, and Minda, at the baby sitter's home. During the summer, Daniel stays at the Garfields' home each workday. - Comments: In reference to a school's structure, Mickey said, "A typical question we will ask is, 'Do you have a structure I can look at?' If it's, 'Well, we're going to probably work on letters and make some paintings,' then you say to yourself, 'If you don't care, how much will you care when my child gets into trouble?' "
Steve, 35, Judy, 34, Christopher, 2, of Agoura
- Family status: Married.
- Occupations: Steve is director of employee consultation for CBS Inc., Los Angeles. Judy is director of corporate services for Holman Consulting Corp., Canoga Park.
- Age entered child care: 18 months.
- Type of child care: Licensed home-care baby sitter, Donna Hurd.
- Monthly cost: $301, breakfast, lunch and snacks included.
- Benefits: "Christopher has learned to be more independent. He needed to be with other children. We felt socialization was important," said Judy. Steve said, "We are able to go through our day and feel that our child is safe and is in an environment where his needs are always cared for."
- Drawbacks: "The ideal situation would be to have a live-in sitter," said Judy. "But the cost was prohibitive."
- Alternative when child is sick: Grandparents, Harry and Sue Hunt of Westlake Village, who are retired.
- Routine: Steve drops off Christopher about 7:45 a.m. Judy picks him up about 5:45 p.m.