Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Daycare Provider
Great daycare providers tend to fill their available slots in fairly short order, which is why it’s so important for parents to start their search early and be prepared in advance. Interviewing a daycare provider provides you with an ideal opportunity to evaluate the establishment and staff, but can be a bit overwhelming, especially for parents with limited daycare experience. Approaching each interview with a premade list of questions ensures that you are prepared for the occasion, and lowers the chances of you forgetting to ask about the issues which are important to you. While it’s likely you’ll want to add your own unique concerns to this list, these are some of the questions you should make a point of asking when interviewing a daycare provider.
Is your facility licensed? – While licensing requirements vary on the state and local level, an unlicensed facility may not be the best choice for your child.
What is your typical child-to-staff ratio? Children enrolled in programs with a low child-to-staff ratio have been shown to have a better overall experience in child care and early education programs.
What is your facility’s policy on immunizations? Vaccinations have become a hot-button topic for parents, so it’s important to know each daycare provider’s policy on immunization schedules.
How flexible are drop-off and pick-up times? – Some daycare providers are more flexible with pick-up and drop-off times than others. You may be charged additional fees for early drop-off or late pick-up through some providers.
Does your facility have a special holiday schedule? – Holidays may be the last thing on your mind during an interview, but not knowing this information can pose a scheduling issue on or near special days.
Which supplies do I need to bring for my child? – You may be expected to provide diapers and wipes, food or other supplies. Learn what you’ll need to send with your child, and what the daycare provides as part of their service.
Are parent visits encouraged? – Because a daycare provider will be putting their best face forward during the interview, you may want to drop in unannounced to observe the facility. Some providers welcome visits, while others are less enthusiastic.
How is daily information communicated to parents? – Keeping up with what happened each day and being informed about upcoming events is important. Does the daycare send out emails, letters or verbally communicate this information?
What education and experience requirements do you have for staff? – Some states require a specific level of secondary education for childcare providers and staff, while others do not. Ask about education and experience to ensure your child will be in capable hands.
How frequent is staff turnover in your facility? – Facilities with high turnover may also have internal problems which aren’t immediately obvious. High turnover can indicate a low-quality program, and can present problems when your child becomes attached to his caregivers.
What kind of curriculum does your facility have in place? – Creative and exploratory play is crucial to early development, but a structured curriculum is also important. Determine how your child will be coached in reaching developmental milestones.
Who administers medication to the children? – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates almost 70,000 children under the age of five were treated for accidental drug ingestion in 2008. Unintentional over-medication can be a very real issue in daycare settings where the responsibility of administering medication is handled in a lax manner.
Can you tell me about your release policy? – Learn how a daycare provider handles daily pick-ups to ensure the safety of your child. Are children signed out by authorized adults or is the policy less stringent?
What kind of meals are provided to children throughout the day? – Food allergies and good nutrition are crucial factors, which is why it’s so important for parents to learn how meals are prepared and served. Will you be expected to send food each day, or does the facility provide nutritious meals and snacks?