The Child Care Search: What Should You Ask?

What to Ask Future Daycare

I flew solo for my first daycare tour.  My husband couldn’t get away from work and I figured I could get a grasp of whether or not the place looked like Mrs. Hannigan’s house from Annie without his input.

I met the director and she gave me the tour.  It was a small facility so said tour took about 5 minutes.  I smiled as I peered in classrooms and my eyes scanned the pamphlet she handed me as I walked in the door.

“So, do you have any questions?” She asked as I sat down to write a deposit check to buy reserve a spot on their waiting list.

Um. Um. Questions?  Was I supposed to have those?

It’s hard enough navigating pregnancy at work when you’re a first time mom. Add in the daunting task of finding the right child care and you can easily drive yourself crazy. You simply don’t know what you don’t know.

In my frazzled state I just asked something about breast milk and she said “yes” to whatever my question was and I called that good and handed over the donation deposit check.

I’m nothing if not thorough. Or not.

Here’s what I should have asked:

1. Baby Food – One day, your baby will need to start gumming some pea puree as a side item to that breast milk or formula.  Does the school provide this? Will you bring your own?  Do they thicken it with rice cereal? Are you allowed to bring in homemade food? What kind of containers can they store food in? (I liked these containers and using washi tape as labels for taking homemade baby food to daycare).

2. Tornado Safety Plan – Do they do regular tornado drills?  Where do they go in the event of severe weather? What is protocol for picking up children if they are seeking shelter from a storm?

3. Winter Weather Closings – Does the daycare follow a certain public schools system closure schedule or do they make the call on their own for closings?  If they do follow the schools, do they close for just the first day and then make a judgment call from there?  What about if school is on break – how do they make the decision & how is this information relayed to parents?

4. Teacher Turnover – I never asked about this but we have been SO fortunate in this area.  My daughter adores her teachers and they in turn adore her.  And, for the most part, there has been VERY little turnover in her classroom.  I underestimated how important this would be.  Ask what the teacher turnover rates are.

5. Extras – I know there are several Metro daycares that offer great “perks” to parents and students, such as:

  • Parents Group (Like daycare PTA – aka a great way to find your Village and get to know the parents of the kids your kid is around all day)
    daycare questions

    Daycare pic: Just putting some shag carpeting on her head. No big deal. Typical Tuesday.

  • Optional Dance Classes
  • Optional Music Classes
  • Spanish
  • Baby Sign Language
  • District-certified Pre-K on site
  • Busing to/from area schools
  • Photos/Video/Live Streaming for parents to check in throughout the day

I know this is just the tip of the iceburg, but these are things that I wish I had thought to ask about in advance or have found myself asking over our first year of daycare life.

What do you wish you had known about your childcare provider? What were some of your ‘must ask’ items when looking for childcare?

 

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7 Responses to The Child Care Search: What Should You Ask?

  1. Lauren August 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    It is so hard to think on the spot for questions! Thanks for sharing some possible questions to ask your child care provider.

  2. Julie March 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    I don’t live in Oklahoma, but I’ve worked in daycares in both Alaska and Louisiana, as well as watched children in my own home (and my mom worked at the same daycare for over 26 years before retiring). One of the first questions I always tell parents to ask is what is the parent drop-in policy? Are parents welcome to drop-in to check on things unannounced or do they require prior notice? A prior notice requirement is a red flag for me. It says they may have something to hide.

    Here are some other questions to ask:

    1) Does the center provide lunch (for older children) or do the parents have to provide it? If the center provides it, can a child bring their lunch?

    2) Are nap mats/cots provided or do parents have to provide them? If they are provided by the center,, how are they cleaned/sanitized and how often?

    3) How are accidents/incidents handled? Is there some type of report sent home to parents? In the case of incidents, are the names of all children involved revealed to all the parents or just their child’s name?

    4) Is there any type of daily report sent home with the child? If so, what types of things are recorded on it? For babies, each diaper change and type (dry, wet, bm), each bottle (time and amount ate), and each nap (time they slept, not just minutes) should be recorded.

    5) How do they handle potty training? Is there a specific age at which they begin bringing children to the potty or do they wait for the parents to start?

    6) What is their discipline policy?

  3. ValarI in New Mexico March 14, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    Great questions, I work as a 2 year old teacher in a wonderful daycare and have work there for 2+ years. I agreen that asking the parents to give prior notice before coming by is a red flag but also to be patient and understanding if you walk in unannounced and the teacher seems frazzled and the kids are all over the place, lol it just might be a transition time! Otherwise it is so important to meet the teacher and follow thru with your gut feeling. If it doesn’t seem right, then it might not be.

  4. Valarie in New Mexico March 14, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    Please forgive my typos, I don’t always check what I write before hitting “submit”

  5. Mel September 2, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    When first looking and choosing a daycare, I focused all my thoughts and questions on the immediate future and later had to go back to ask more questions about what to expect in the rest of the center and with transitions that would take place through the years.

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