You may not even realize what questions you’ll have when you set out to get daycare for your child. An experienced in-home daycare provider will be able to give the basic information that every parent needs. The first question to ask is if they have any openings for your child’s age. Even though they may be listed on a website or have been recommended by someone, there’s no guarantee the provider has an opening. Just getting through this part may take awhile, but don’t get discouraged. If the provider cannot take any more children herself, ask if she knows of anyone else who may be able to. Daycare providers are often members of local associations, so they tend to know the other daycare providers in the area.
After availability, you’ll need to know:
- Hours (does that schedule work with your schedule?)
- Weekly rate (do you pay the same amount regardless of if the child attends or not?)
- When is the payment due?
- 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:
- Pets in the home
- Does anyone smoke in the home?
- Who else lives there, and are they involved with the daycare?
- Will anyone else be helping the provider?
- If the provider has an emergency, is someone else available to watch the children (even just until parents can arrive to pick up kids).
- Is the provider trained in CPR?
- How many children are currently in the daycare?
- Discipline philosophy
- Are there any preschool activities?
- What activities do the kids do?
- Do the children play outside?
- Do the children go on field trips?
- Are babies fed on demand or on a schedule?
- Can the parents visit at any time?
- 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?
- Does the provider feel comfortable talking with you about your child, or other things going on in the home that may impact your child?
- What does the provider expect from you as a parent?
- 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?
- Keep in mind, anybody who lives in the home or visits on a regular basis will be around your child.
- Does the provider try to stay on a semi-consistent schedule?
- What role does music/art/science play in the daycare?
If the provider has children of her own, you may want to find out of the provider takes the child to and from school or activities, and what she does with the daycare kids during this time. She may also have another family member that she takes care of, like a parent. It may be your child is in the car quite a bit. It is up to you if this is OK or not.
These are just some of the things that should be considered and discussed with potential daycare providers over the phone. If they match up to your needs it is time to schedule an in person interview with the provider.
Check www.decideondaycare.com for more information on what to look for an how to go about an in person interview.