Questions to ask when choosing a daycare! Choosing a day care is not an easy experience. Even after you do your research and have your list of places to interview, they may have a waiting list months long. I recommend looking way in advance of when you think you will be placing your child. Especially if you need infant care since the teacher to infant care ratio is much lower (thankfully) than a 2-year-old’s care ratio of teacher to child.
Prepare for some sticker shock if you are a first-time parent and need infant care. Monthly infant care will more than likely be more expensive than your monthly care payment. The good thing is each year after that it goes down in price! Depending on what your needs are dictates what questions you should ask. My mother-in-law agreed to watch my daughter until she was 9 months old. At 8 months is when we started looking at daycare facilities.
Holy Hell was that a stressful month. First of all, since I was looking last minute (I didn’t realize a month was not enough time) my list of day care centers and my must have criteria basically went out the window. Mainly, because of most all of the daycare facilities, with infant care, were either: full, had waiting lists, were over 30 min away from work and home or were rated low. So I signed her up for a place that had my bare minimum criteria, knowing eventually I would be moving her in a year or two. I learned a lot from that experience.
Some parents may want to have the daycare that does it all. Meaning the day care has infant care up through vpk. Some may want one facility for infant care and another for toddler through VPK. There are a lot of factors to think of and this article will hopefully help make those decisions.
Questions to ask when choosing a daycare:
- Do they include meals or do you have to provide? This is a deal breaker for me. If I am going to pay several hundred dollars a month…I am not also packing 3 meals and snacks every day, I have enough trouble getting my toddler to eat dinner at home. Plus who has the time??
- Do they provide a daily report? This is super helpful for me and as she has gotten older the report changes accordingly to her needs, etc. For an infant, it should tell you when they napped, how long, their mood, how much formula/milk they ate, etc. As they grow it changes to telling you when they used the potty, naps, behavior and mood.
- Sickness policy! Do they let you send your child to school sick? Deal breaker!
- How many days is the school closed? If you are a working mom and need to find coverage in advance this is super helpful to know.
- Do you get any credit for vacation days or do you have to pay when your child is out of school? (one day care gave you accrued time that you could use for vacation week and the other does not)
- Are all caregivers certified in first aid and CPR?
- Do they do criminal background checks?
- What is policy or what is available for potty training? You’ll want to assess how supportive they are in the potty training process. At what age do they suggest introducing it? How do they encourage children to use the potty? My daughter started training early. She started to actually sign for the potty and her daycare had a toilet right outside her room for her to use. When I was looking to change her daycare facility when she turned 2 years old, I wanted to make sure she still would be able to continue her potty training. I was surprised to find that since she would be a young (new) 2-year-old some day care facilities did not have access to toilets in their classroom. Many daycares only had toilets in the older 2-year-old classroom. So that was a deal breaker for me.
- What is the policy on discipline? What do they do if there is a biter? (This happens between ages 1-2)
- What is the security? Are the entrances locked? Do they check id for pick up?
- How often do they sanitize toys and clean their classrooms?
- If they have VPK, do they offer wrap around care? If so, what are the hours and does it cover summer?
- What is their readiness rate (if it is VPK)? This is a rate that they are graded on as for their readiness in preparation for kindergarten.
- Ask the facility what they think sets them apart from other daycares or VPK’s?
- Do they offer any extra programs? The facility I transferred my daughter to has, for a nominal fee, dance classes, karate classes, and soccer.
- What is the policy on texting your child’s teacher? When my daughter was in infant care, I was so lucky to have her teacher text me pictures showing me how she was doing. This was super helpful for my husband and me, especially in the beginning of placing her in daycare or on the days when she wasn’t feeling well.
Those are my top questions to ask when choosing a daycare. Once again, I hope you found this information and my parenting tips helpful! Please share with other parents!
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