Our daycare search was so extensive my husband built a spreadsheet for information regarding who had a spot for our child, how much they charged, their hours, and if they had preschool activities. After visiting or talking to someone, we filled out the “comments” section. This became full of comments such as “5 dogs-very noisy and smelly”; “lit candle within reach of children”; “seems nice, mentions Jesus A LOT”.
Before finding our very close to perfect provider, we had some interesting daycare interviews. One caregiver told us the kids mostly stay in one room in the basement of a bi-level home. She said they watched a movie every day and then cartoons when she was preparing meals or a snack on the upper level. I saw a spacious, railed deck and asked if the kids liked playing on it. She said, “The kids don’t go outside. They’ll stay in the basement”. One house had an open basement stairway, with no baby gate or door, straight off the playroom area. I tried to ask her about the stairs, but her teenage son’s music was so loud she didn’t hear my question. My husband called a provider to ask if she had an opening and how much she charged. She assured him over and over again that she didn’t drink very much. Of course, he never asked her about her drinking habits.
Needless to say our children never went to these providers. We did sign up with a woman who seemed so perfect she seemed too good to be true. We were relieved and happy, and so discouraged from the previous interviews that we ignored many things that were going wrong. When we couldn’t take any more, we realized we should have started the search again right away, no matter how painful it was. We learned that you won’t know if the philosophy you discuss in the interview is actually practiced every day until you’ve started. The best way to approach a new daycare situation is in a “probationary” style. Give it a month or two…if you or the children are not comfortable with the new provider, start looking again. Even if your concerns seem vague or petty, listen to your instincts. An open line of communication with your child’s daycare caregiver is a must. If the problems are not resolved, remember that this is a business arrangement, and you have the right to do business with someone else. Also remember that there is someone out there who will be a good match for your family…you just have to keep looking.When we took our children out of that unsatisfactory daycare, we spread the word that we were desperate for a provider, and got a reference for a wonderful, experienced, and loving woman, whose rates were much more reasonable.
Remember, you are the advocate for your child.
Daycare centers can be as varied as the children they have in them. Some focus on early child development, some on physical education while others work as a preschool to prepare your children for the years ahead. They can also range greatly in quality and price. In this article we will help you ask the right questions and know what to watch for. At www.decideondaycare.com we will help you with what to look for in a daycare center.
A daycare center is a good option for childcare, especially for parents with jobs that have longer hours or where it is difficult to take time off without much notice. A teacher can be home sick or on vacation but the center will still be able to take your child. The downside of a daycare center is that different people will be working with your child. Daycare centers tend to have high staff turnover.
When you contact them, you’ll want to know if they have any openings for your child’s age. If they don’t have a spot immediately, ask if your child can be put on a waiting list. After availability, you’ll need to know:
- Weekly rate (do you pay the same amount regardless of if the child attends or not?)
- When is the payment due?
- What methods of payment are acceptable?
- Do they offer any discounts (employee discounts for large area companies, discounts for paying a month at a time, sibling discounts)
- Is the provider licensed?
- If you have a school-age child, is transportation to and from school available?
If the provider’s information is fitting your needs so far, you can get more specific:
- What kind of security system do they have? Parents should have to check in at the front desk before going to the children’s rooms.
- What kind of discipline do they use?
- Are there any preschool activities?
- What activities do the kids do during the day?
- Do the children play outside?
- Do the children go on field trips?
- Are babies fed on demand or on a schedule?
- If you have a baby or toddler, do they potty train? What method is used (does it match your own plan for your child?)
There are other subjects to consider, that are a bit more delicate, and are really more personal preference items:
- Religion – how does the provider handle Christmas and Easter, for example?
- What kind of food is served? What is a typical meal?
- How often do they receive sweets or candy?
- How much time will they typically spend watching T.V. or movies? What kind of programming will they watch when they do watch something?
- What role does music/art/science play in the daycare?
You may want to search online for the daycare center, to check for news items regarding the center. Also check the Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org