It is often difficult to think of questions to ask daycare providers before enrolling your child. For many parents, this is a whole new experience – and it’s hard enough trying to think about how you’ll manage during the day with someone else watching your child, especially for new moms. Even though everyone you know has had a great experience dropping off their kids somewhere, you might still be wondering whether or not you can trust someone new.
Of course, what to ask potential child care providers depends on many different factors, including where you live. To help, we asked a few experts to weigh in on what to consider when choosing a daycare for your child.
What are the daycare policies?
Where are the sick days? Downtime for the kids? How about the type of events that deserve a call to parents? “Be sure to ask about their policies – it might not seem like the most important thing when looking for daycare, but it should be at the top of the deciding factors,” Taran Conwell, a homeless mom, who ran a home daycare for five years. (and has advised many families on finding a daycare that’s right for their family) says Scary Mommy.
“A great program won’t make up for an infant sleep policy you’re not comfortable with. You can call most child care centers during the initial phase of your search and request a copy of their policies and manual. This way, you won’t waste time visiting child care centers that inherently aren’t working for your family.
How are daycare workers treated?
According to Conwell, the staff at a daycare center should play an important role in determining if the daycare is right for your family, because teachers will spend the most time with your children. “If you’re in a daycare, find out how the staff are treated. How is their sick leave going? Do they receive paid vacations, benefits, etc.? It will always come down to the teachers; they will have the biggest impact on your child’s life, and you want them to enjoy their work and not be in a toxic work environment,” Conwell advises.
Dr. Jessica Biren Caverly — a licensed psychologist, founder of Western Connecticut Behavioral Health, and daycare mother of two — also suggests asking about the staff. “Do the staff stay with the same age group daily or do they change classes? I wanted teachers who knew my child and his individual needs very well,” she says. For this reason, she considers staff rotating between rooms daily to be a red flag, especially with the health and safety concerns associated with COVID-19.
Are there restricted areas in the daycare?
Dr. Biren Caverly suggests walking around any area where your child will be cared for to check for parts that seem out of bounds or inaccessible to children. “I chose a daycare with a large window that runs the length of the room to see everything that’s going on in the room from outside the classroom,” she explains, emphasizing the importance of transparency between teachers and parents. “Also, with no restricted areas, everything was out in the open and available to me for inspection.”
Even if children are not allowed in an area for safety reasons (e.g. kitchen), parents should still be allowed to see all spaces and ask relevant questions about the safety and supervision of those spaces .
What kind of gambling and enrichment programs do they offer?
Early education experts at Goddard School, one of the largest child care providers in the United States, recommend asking questions about how your child will spend their leisure time.
“Find a school that prioritizes learning through play. For young children, play is unstructured and liberating. These are not expensive toys. In fact, the simpler the toy, the more it can be used by a child developing his imagination. Toys and equipment should be chosen carefully – first for safety, then for how they stimulate youngsters’ imaginations and help children develop,” say the school’s early education experts. Godard.
Also, does the daycare offer multicultural and developmentally appropriate materials and equipment? Do you feel a sense of respect for diversity and respect for different cultures? Both are important questions to ask, according to experts at Goddard.
How is daily communication handled?
Do you want to get updates on what your child is doing throughout the day? Or will you be satisfied with a daily report given at the time of treatment? Either way, you’ll want to know how your little one spent his time away from you.
“A modernized daycare will have an app that parents can download to stay informed about their child throughout the day, where a daily toilet and meal log is kept,” says Whitney Rancourt, elementary school teacher, literacy interventionist and founder of Mama Manages. . “There will often be photos posted throughout the day as well.”
Other Questions to Ask Child Care Providers
Having a list of topics to discuss with a potential daycare provider can help you feel more confident. In addition to your personal questions, you should also check reviews and ask for referrals from local parent groups on social media. All three will help you ease your mind and feel better about returning to work or dealing with personal issues that you need to take care of during the day.
Here are some other good questions to ask child care providers. And remember, no question is a “stupid question” – when it comes to your children, you have the right to feel completely secure about your decision.
- How many children are there in the class?
- What is the child-teacher ratio?
- Are you licensed?
- What is your procedure if a child is sick?
- How do you deal with injuries that may arise during the day?
- How do you deal with a child who bullies another child?
- What are your methods for a child who becomes unruly?
- What are your discipline techniques?
- How are you sanitizing your classrooms and meeting rooms for COVID-19 and flu season?
- How do you deal with potty training? Do kids need to be potty trained at a certain age?
- How often do you change diapers?
- What do you require us to bring from your home on a daily basis?
- Do you have a containment procedure in the event of a threat?
- What safety and security measures are practiced and actively reviewed?
- Do you offer an educational course?
- Will parents be informed of the program in advance?
- Are you a nut free establishment?
- How do you handle allergies?
- What type of food is served here, or is all the food from home?
- Will there be reports on what my child ate that day?
- What is your policy regarding outside guests?
- What would you do if someone called a threat?
- When are you closed?
- What are your schedules ? What procedures are in place if a parent is late?
- Will I get to know the teachers and assistants beforehand?
- How do you notify parents of special days and events?
- Do the children go out at all? What’s the protocol?
- When children are outside, is the fence secure? Is it possible someone could lure a child from outside the fence?
- Are there safe and age-appropriate outdoor playgrounds and playsets?
- Who do I contact if my child is sick?
- How many hours in advance do you need to know that we will not be entering? Will we be charged?
- Do you organize events outside regular hours?
- How do I know how my child is doing?
- Do you send home reports or do you have cameras that parents can access from their homes?
- How long have the current staff members been here?
- Do staff have access to ongoing training?
- When are tuition fees due?
- What type of background check do you require employees to undergo?
- Are employees certified in CPR?
- I am a nursing mother — can I bring breast milk?
- How will breast milk be stored if I bring it?
- Do you allow parents to stop?
- How do you deal with children who need medication daily?
- How do you manage nap time?
- What is the procedure if a child refuses to take a nap?
- Do you celebrate holidays with the children?
- Is there a dress code?
- Does this daycare welcome LGBTQ+ households?
- Are staff members vaccinated?
- Does this building have pets or class animals?
- Are there separate sinks for hand washing and food preparation for children?
- How often are the rooms thoroughly cleaned?
- How do you manage staff leave?
- Do you provide a tax receipt?
- Do you take photos during the day? Are they available online?
Additional Questions to Ask Home Child Care Providers
- Who else lives in the house with you?
- Do friends or out-of-town visitors come during daycare hours?
- What is your maximum class size?
- What is your relationship with your neighborhood?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have any references I can call?
- What is your vacation or sick policy? Will someone cover in your absence?
- What vacation are you going?
- How much screen time do you allow?
- What is your daily rate?