As parents, we always want the very best for our children. We know them inside and out and want to provide a safe, loving, and caring environment for them at all times. This is especially true when it comes time to entrusting their care to someone else. The transition from being home with your child to choosing a day care can be nerve-racking and bittersweet. This list of questions to ask your day care provider can help you have confidence in your choice.
10 Questions to Ask Your Day Care Provider
1. “Is the daycare program licensed?”
While licensing may not guarantee the quality of care, it does ensure that the minimum requirements set by your state are met and that the program is monitored for compliance. Choosing a licensed facility or provider can give additional peace of mind.
2. “Is there always someone present who has been trained in pediatric first aid and CPR?”
Knowing how the facility or provider will react in an emergency situation is incredibly important. Having staff members that are trained in pediatric first aid will ensure that, in the rare chance of an emergency, the children in their care will get appropriate treatment.
3. “What is the breastfeeding protocol, and how is breastmilk storage handled?”
As a breastfeeding or breastmilk feeding parent, knowing how your day care handles your breast milk may be one of the more important questions you ask. You may want to discuss breastmilk storage with the facility by asking the following:
Will they store frozen milk and thaw as needed, or will you need to provide thawed or fresh milk each day?
Do they require you to bring fully-assembled bottles?
Is the staff familiar with breastmilk storage guidelines?
What is the protocol if they feel the baby needs more milk than provided?
You may also want to ask about pace feeding, and discuss with the staff how this method of bottle feeding helps to protect your breastfeeding relationship.
4. “What is the staff’s background and experience?”
Are the members of the staff child development or early education professionals? It may be beneficial to know if the staff have any specialized education or skills. You may also be interested in knowing how much experience the staff has and what the turnover rate is like at the facility. Ask if all of the adults working in the space have had thorough background checks on state and national levels.
5. “What are the parent communication and security policies?”
The communication style and protocols for the facility are important considerations when choosing a day care. You may be interested to know if parents receive communication throughout the day or if all communication is done at pick up and drop off.
You can ask if they have cameras in the facility and if you will have access to them. The staff might send updates and pictures to you throughout the day.
6. “Does the daily schedule include active and quiet play? Does it include group and individual learning activities?”
“What will my child’s day look like?” is a great way to get answers to all of these points. Varied activities will encourage development and foster an environment of learning. You may also ask if the children get time outside and what meal times look like at the facility.
7. “What is the nap schedule and where will my child sleep?”
Knowing that your child will be provided a safe sleep space can lift a lot of anxiety when you are separated. It is currently recommended for infants to sleep flat on their backs on a firm surface, with nothing else in the sleep space. Make sure safe sleep guidelines are being followed.
You may also inquire on the nap schedule – is there a set nap time or does the staff respond to each child’s cues? Will a staff member be present while infants are sleeping?
8. “What is the sick child policy?”
How does the facility handle a child that is sick? Will you be notified immediately if another child in the room is ill? If your child is sick, will you be charged for that day, even if they do not attend? It is helpful to ask if you will need a doctor’s note to return to care and what symptoms the facility looks for.
More recently it has become appropriate to ask what precautions are taken to prevent the spread of illness such as COVID-19. Are social distancing and local mandates being followed? Do COVID-19 policies change the access you have to the facility?
Children and adults should wash their hands frequently, especially before and after diaper changing, using the toilet, handling food, and handling bodily fluids(such as wiping noses).
9. “Are visits from parents allowed any time the childcare program is open?”
Most childcare facilities are happy to have drop-in visits from parents at any time. If the facility does not allow this, ask them why and decide if you are comfortable with that restriction. You may also want to ask how the facility will involve you in day-to-day learning and development. Knowing how the program is managed will likely have a large impact on your decision.
10. “What are your philosophies on child care?”
It’s important to find a care provider who aligns with your personal philosophies on child care. If there are marked differences in ideas of how certain situations are handled, then the facility might not be a good fit for your family.
We know that children learn and respond best when supported by a caring adult. When you are not there, how will the program interact with your child? Decide what the priorities are for your family so that you can have peace of mind when leaving your child in the care of others each day.
Where you send your child to day care is a monumental decision, and asking these questions can help determine what facility or provider is best for you. Visit the facilities in your area and talk to the other parents in your community before making a decision. No matter what decision you make, it will be the right one, because you know what is best for your family.