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Questions to Ask

When choosing a child-care provider, asking some important questions and getting the information you need will help you make the best decision for your child.

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When you meet a provider as part of your search for the perfect child-care setting, think about what questions you should ask. Interviewing your child-care candidates is a critical step to finding the best fit for you and your family. Here are some questions to ask a child-care provider during an interview:

  • Is the center or facility licensed by the state?

  • Have there been any grievances or write-ups for the center?

  • What ages of children do they accept?

  • What is the schedule? Ask about hours, vacations, and sick days.

  • What is the cost? What additional fees, if any, are there?

  • Do they group the children? If so, how are the groups determined? Are different ages placed in different rooms or spaces? How do children move between groups?

  • Do expectations or activities change with the children’s ages?

  • Where and when do the children sleep? What is provided by the center or facility and what needs to be brought from home?

  • How do they manage toilet training? Where and when do they change diapers?

  • How are food and feeding handled? Who prepares the food? Are there food options provided or is food allowed only from home?

  • How many children is each caregiver responsible for?

  • What is the discipline policy? Hitting, yelling, or shaking children is never acceptable at any time.

  • Are the staff trained in early child development, including college classes or degree?

  • How does the center handle emergencies?

  • Is the staff trained in CPR and first aid?

  • What is the center’s policy for sick children?

  • How experienced is the staff?

    • How long have they been working with children?

    • Do the providers have experience working with children the age of your child?

    • What do they like about working with kids?

    • What is the staff turnover rate?

  • What are the policies for parent visits and pick-ups/drop-offs? Can a parent visit at any time? Can a child get picked up or dropped off at any time?

  • How does the staff communicate with parents? For example, daily conversations, weekly reports, information bulletin boards, or e-mails?

Don’t be afraid to ask more questions after your first visit. Good communication with whichever provider you choose is important to make you and your baby feel safe. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable or agree with the provider caring for your child, trust your instincts and find a better match somewhere else.

QUICK TIP: Many facilities or providers will offer a free day to try things out. This allows you and your child a chance to decide if the child-care option is the right match for your family.

First 5 California
Contributed by:
First 5 California
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