When you visit a potential daycare provider for your child, you don’t necessarily need a checklist. After all, you have already prepared your own home for your baby and you know how to spot the hazards in an environment. When you visit a friend’s house with your child, don’t you automatically move breakables and lit candles out of reach? If you are uncomfortable around someone, trust your parenting instincts. It may take some searching, but you will find someone suitable to take care of your child during the day. Here is some information on what to look for when you visit the home:
- Is the house clean?
- Are the toys mostly educational?
- What kind of preschool curriculum do they do?
- Does the environment seem warm and inviting?
- Do you see normal safety equipment (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, baby gates, outlet covers, etc.)?
- Is the bathroom child-friendly? Are there stools for reaching the sink, is the soap easy to use, and are there potty chairs for potty trainers?
- Is there an area outdoors for running, jumping, playing?
- If the child will be in the provider’s car, ask about car seats/booster seats
- Is there enough parking for multiple parents dropping off or picking up children at the same time?
- Can the provider give you the names and numbers of some parents for referrals?
The daycare should have a handbook. If a daycare seems promising but you’d like to go home and think about it, ask if you can have a copy of the handbook. It should be chock full of specific information including:
- Fees for picking up the child later than the agreed-upon time
- When the daycare is closed (holidays and vacations)
- When the child will be sent home or cannot attend daycare due to sickness (usually a state regulation)
- How contract termination is handled (how many weeks’ notice is required)
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?
Check into your state’s rules and regulations regarding insurance in the case of a car accident. In some states the owner of the car insurance must carry Personal Injury Protection insurance that will pay for your child’s injuries. In some states, your child must be covered under a health insurance plan, but the provider’s liability insurance may pay for the child’s injuries.