Putting your child in daycare is a big deal. In this post, we’re going to talk about the questions to ask daycare providers so that you can have a clear picture of the type of care you can expect from your chosen childcare program.
If the thought of leaving your child in a childcare program during the day makes your heart sink and your eyes water, you’re not alone. Nothing prepares you to be separated from your baby. Nothing.
The best way to facilitate a smooth transition is to find a daycare or childcare center that gives you the confidence to drop your kid off – even if you spend the rest of the ride crying.
In the United States, “97% of child care settings are homes, not centers” (1). Therefore, the majority of these questions apply to daycare centers and home care settings.
30 Questions to Ask A Daycare Provider Before You Commit
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Questions to ask daycare about the facility
Taking time to learn as much about the care philosophy and links to other centers in the community can help you make your decision about a new or established daycare setting.
Newly opened child care facilities are nice because we presume a new center will come stocked with new supplies and happy staff ready to stimulate the minds of our young children. While this possible, it’s necessary to consider new centers don’t yet have a track record of success or failure. An older established childcare facility has a track record and you can use this to learn as much as possible about staffing trends, growth, and potential concerns.
- How long has the facility been open?
- Is the facility licensed and what star rating has the facility been assigned?
- What measures are in place to ensure every child is physically safe at all times?
- How does the facility look?
- Do you get a good vibe when you are inside the space?
- Did you have to go through enough security during the visit to feel that your child would be secure?
What to find specific data about a care center in your state? This resource allows you to find information about a center’s ownership, license, last inspection details, and more.
Questions to ask daycare about medical safety
Knowing a facility’s ability to handle medical emergencies can put you at ease. Therefore, find out if there are medical professionals on staff. If medical professionals aren’t immediately available, you’ll want to know if the adults assigned to each room are trained in first aid and CPR for the age-group for which they are assigned. Another thing you’ll want to know is if children, including your own, are required to be immunized to enroll in the program. Your stance on the topic will help you determine if your own philosophy aligns with that of the child care setting you are considering.
- How are emergencies and disasters handled? Is there a written plan/policy in place?
- Are there any medical personnel on staff at all times?
- Are all staff members required to be first aid and CPR certified?
- What are the immunization and sick child policies?
- Do you notice safety features in the rooms?
- Do you feel the setups of the different rooms you are shown are child friendly?
Questions to ask daycare about staffing
The best child care doesn’t come from having the best buildings. It comes from the people teaching and caring for your child. Learn about how the daycare center you are considering approaches to staffing. The quality of the staff can be a strong indicator of the quality of care.
- What are the qualifications of the staff members working at the facility?
- Is there a high turn-over rate for the staff?
- What is the caregiver-to-child ratio?
- Can references be provided?
- How many adults did you notice in the room(s) during your visit?
- Did the staff appear older or younger in age? Is it your preference?
- How did the staff appear? Relaxed? Friendly? Stressed? Overwhelmed?
Questions to ask daycare about tuition and fees
We’ve all heard daycare centers are expensive but until you need them, you really don’t know. As you explore your child care options, consider how the tuition and fees will impact your final decision. I wish we lived in a world where child care cost doesn’t matter but it does.
- How much is monthly tuition and fees?
- Are there ways to lower the tuition? (Discounts, multiple children, scholarships, grants, programs)
- What payment types are accepted? (Some programs don’t have online payments systems)
- When is the first payment due based on your child’s start date? (Are days prorated if you don’t begin at the start of a month?)
Questions to ask daycare about enrollment
It used to baffle me that families began searching for childcare several months before their child’s birth. Now, I understand. Many programs have very long waitlists. So. If you find a program you love you may have to wait to get accepted and when a spot opens, you’ll need to be ready to commit. The earlier you begin your search, the better
- Is there a waitlist? If so, how long?
- How soon can the daycare confirm your child’s position in the program?
- What are the scheduling options? (two-day, three-day, half-day, extended days)
- What are vacation and holiday policies?
Questions to ask daycare about breastmilk and food
Transitioning into a childcare setting while breastfeeding requires some planning and clear communication. Also if your child has food allergies or food restrictions you’ll want to get some important questions answered before you enroll to ensure your preferences can be accommodated.
- Is it possible to provide your child with breastmilk?
- Can you breastfeed on-site?
- What formula is used by the childcare program? (If you need to introduce a formula you can try the same brand)
- What foods are allowed in the center? (Are there allergies, sensitivities, or diet preferences)
Questions to ask daycare about day-to-day
Without spending a complete day in a childcare setting, it’s difficult to know what a true day looks like don’t let this discourage you. You can get snapshots of typical days by talking with the staff and observing the activity at each of your visits. Please do more than one visit to the care center you choose. Use what you observe and your gut feelings to make your final decision.
- What would a typical day in the daycare look like? (activities, indoor, outdoor, schedules)
- Is time spent away from the center? Are parents informed in advance?
- What are the policies concerning pick-up and drop off?
- Are unscheduled visits allowed/welcomed?
- Is transportation provided?
- How is discipline handled? Is there a written policy?
- How is potty-training handled? (Age-specific)
- How is communication handled? (Positive and problematic behaviors)
- Do the children look engaged and happy?
- What activities are going on during your visit?
- Were you able to set the visit time? Was it carefully curated by the staff?
There’s no sugarcoating it, the ache of parting from your child to go back to your pre-baby responsibilities is hard. Hopefully, the information in this post helps you ask the questions necessary to make a decision on a daycare setting that makes you feel comfortable and meets your approval. You got this!
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