As a parent, you make many decisions every day. As you transition back to work full or part-time, choosing a care provider for your child will be one of the biggest decisions you make. You want to choose a provider that suits your family and lifestyle, but you also want to choose one that is safe, affordable, and educational for the time you and your child are apart.
Here are 5 Questions to Ask When Looking for Childcare.
- What are your qualifications?
A quality day care center will be licensed with the state. You can request to see these licenses, and you can also contact the state and find out what the requirements for such licenses are. Additionally, well-run centers may also have met accreditations for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Other safety certifications to ask about include CPR and first-aid training for employees and caregivers. This is a good time as well to discuss the local policies of this center. Ask about evacuation procedures, if babies are put on their backs to sleep, and survey the cleanliness on the day you visit. Finally, be sure to also check into policies about infant feeding, sippy cups and bottles, snacks, and meal plans.
- What is your sick policy?
Daycare centers, like schools, should have a comprehensive sick plan for if your child becomes sick at school. Ask which symptoms they will assess before calling you, and also check on what is considered a temperature (usually anything over 100).
Be sure to ask what the policy is regarding you sending your child with symptoms such as a cough or runny nose. Also ask about their fever-free duration policy (usually 24 hours) so you know how much time off-work you will need to plan if your child is sick. This is a good time to inquire if you will be charged for days you do not send your child at all.
- What is your child to staff ratio?
One of the most important questions to ask is about the child to staff ratio. A typical setting that adheres to the state requirements might have ratios similar to these:
1:5 for 2-3 year olds
1:7 for 3-4 year olds
1:15 for 5 year olds
Ask about this center’s policies, how teacher breaks are handled, and if the ratio is decreased for special needs children. When you visit the center, determine if you feel the classroom/playground space is adequate. A good rule of thumb is if you and you child are overwhelmed in the visit, you might be overwhelmed if enrolled.
- What does your daily schedule and curriculum look like?
For infants, ask specifically about schedules for feeding and sleeping. For toddlers and preschoolers, inquire about potty training policies. Determine if the educational curriculum being used will be stimulating for your child and meet your expectations of what you expect him to learn. Does the school use a packaged curriculum and teachers supplement, or are teachers responsible for lesson planning? Does the curriculum scaffold, so that each year skills are being built upon for kindergarten readiness?
- What is the cost of care?
This might seem like the most important question you will ask, but it is necessary that you first determine if this childcare center is a good fit for your family. If so, you will need to analyze the cost to your budget with that in mind. You are paying for safe quality care, activity, and educational support for your child, as well as supporting a local business.
Ask specifically about billing policies such as how and when you will be charged. Inquire about vacation weeks, school closings, and overtime charges. Ask for a complete breakdown of care, year by year. Some centers decrease cost as student to teacher ratios increase. This information will allow you to budget for now and the future.
Leaving your child in the care of someone else is no decision to be made lightly. We appreciate your support of our center and look forward to sharing and growing with your family.