What to Ask When You Are Choosing a Childcare Center

Written by: Kids Work

You’ve just confirmed you’re pregnant and can’t wait to share the good news. Who should you call first? Your parents? Best friend?

Nope.  If you’re considering group care after your maternity leave is over, the first people you should call are your local childcare providers.

My best advice is to start early, do your research and have a plan B (and C and D!). When I give a tour, I like to ask (but can usually tell) if it’s anyone’s first tour. That overwhelmed look when I say the word “curriculum” in an infant room or my favorite question to hear from bemused fathers -- what do babies DO all day? -- are common for first-time parents.

The first five years of life are when we do the most growing, developing and learning, which makes a quality child care center even more important! Below is a list of topics and questions I suggest that parents discuss with any facility they are considering.

  • Tuition: This is usually the first thing people ask about. After learning the total price, find out what specifically is included.  Will food be provided? What about formula/milk, diapers and wipes? Also, be sure to ask about enrollment fees, annual fees and when the center is closed for holidays.  These questions will help to determine the value for your family. Quality childcare is priceless, but you also have to make sure you’re getting everything you need within your budget.
  • Sick Policy: Illness in group care is something you’ll never be able to prevent, but knowing a center’s policies is imperative. When will you have to keep your baby home? How sick will they let your child’s classmates get before they send them home? What are the center’s cleaning and sanitizing routines and policies? How do they help prevent the spread of illness?
  • Safety and Security: Trusting other people to care for your child is difficult enough, so make sure you’re comfortable with the center’s safety and security policies. What’s the student/teacher ratio? Who has access to the building? How are the classrooms monitored? What are the emergency procedures?
  • Teachers and Administrators:  Knowing more about the teachers and administrators is a great way to help yourself feel more secure with your decision. What does the staff interview process entail? What credentials are teachers required to have? Are there lead and assistant teachers in each room? How involved are the administrators in the classrooms?

When touring child care centers, it’s essential that you get all of your questions answered and that you feel welcome to call or stop back in for additional information. This is a significant decision for your family, and you should feel empowered to make the best choice possible!

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 1:33 PM