Childcare Interview Questions

Updated on March 20, 2011
J. asks from Phoenix, AZ
10 answers

Good morning Mamas,

My husband & I are getting ready to start looking for a daycare provider for our soon to be born son. I'm going to stay home with him as long as I can, but unfortunately will need to return to work. We are currently looking for private in-home daycare, not our home, and was wondering if there are specific questions out there that should be asked. I know the basic questions would be the hours & cost, but what kind of safety questions can be asked? Are there any questions that you may have asked and received some surprising answer & was grateful that you asked???? I have done a google search & found a good interview sheet from Are there any other websites out there that anyone can suggest too??

As always, thank you in advance for your opinions!!!!!

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answers from Tucson on

Is there a pool? I wouldnt want a pool for danger of drowning. Is there smoking in or around home? I neglected to ask this and later found out after smelling in my daughters clothes that the main sitter smoked outside her house while kids played. I asked the sitter. Big no no for us. We snatched her out of there. How many kids to adult ratio? Do they provide meals and such?

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answers from Omaha on

As a licensed childcare provider, I have been asked some really "interesting" questions. Most professional childcare providers will have some sort of contract and policies outline. I usually go point by point with prospective parents, covering each topic and explaining why this policy is in place. If she does not have a policy statement or contract, I might rethink using this individual; not that she can't or won't do a good job, but I always think that someone that has this in place tends to treat her business like more of a business and understands that everyone must be clear on many issues.

Questions I would ask:
1)Is this individual licensed? For how long? Any non-compliances with the State? Days/hours of operation. Weekly cost.
2)What does a typical day look like at childcare?
3)Are animals allowed with the children? Have they ever bitten? Vacinated?
4)Where do the children sleep?
5)What is your sick policy?
6)What is your vacation/personal/sick policy?
7)Do you ever have substitutes? How are they trained?
8)How many children in care?
9)Pick up policy? What happens if someone else needs to pick up? What are the standard operating procedures for this?

Get references! Ask for current/past families in care. Ask them if they could change three things, what would they be? What are they most happy with? How many days off has the provider taken in the past six months and with what kind of notice? Do your homework ahead of time so that when you make your final choice, you know that you have done the best research you can.

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answers from Detroit on

What happend when the owner is ill? Do they have a back up? Also, I had issues with in home daycare as I was the 1st to drop off each day....the provider at times had wet hair or no make up on. Are they going to be READY to start their day when their business opens?

Also, how do you get in and out of the house? If you just walk in the door, is there an alarm system?

Do they have a fire escape?

Where do the nappers nap? In a seperate room? On a seperate floor?

Ask fo rreferences and call those people. Be sure after they give you all the things they like about it to name one thing they would change if they could. Is this one thing something you can live with?



answers from Salt Lake City on

cpr training, state registered,
Make sure you see the play area, make sure there is a play area, and a fenced yard.
How many kids and how many adults
meals- do they provide breakfast and lunch or do you need to send them or make sure they eat at home in the morning

I interviewed one lady that lived down the street from us. She charged a lot and she took two weeks "paid" vacation a year- which meant I had to find another baby sitter for the two weeks PLUS PAY HER for the two weeks. She wanted me to pay for every day of the month if he was there or not. They were not allowed to be in the upstairs of her house EVER they were not allowed to sit on her furniture, wear shoes, talk loudly, I dont remember a huge list of donts. These are the kind you want to avoid.
I ended up getting a sitter farther away closer to work who adored my kid and loved what she did.
That is the kind you want.


answers from Dover on

Ask questions business type questions such as what the hours of operation are, is there a limit to the hours within the operating hours (such as 9 or 10 hours), when and under what circumstances overtime rates apply, are meals/snacks provided by the center or by the parent, what are the rates, when do they change (age 3 and/or potty trained), and holiday/vacation/personal/sick day closing schedule. Do they have a back up provider? Discuss your needs. Discuss contracts and cancellation terms. What days are they closed? When is payment due?

Ask operational/care type questions such as what their typical days is like, do they have a schedule, adult/child ratios, and what are their discipline policies. Ask to see the play and nap areas.

Ask experience long has the center been in operation, how long has this provider/teacher been in childcare, what training do they have. Try to get a real feel for the person who will be caring for your child...ask "what if" questions to determine what they would do if a child gets hurt, misbaves, doesn't feel well, etc. Ask security questions like how they handle pick-ups, emergencies, etc.

Ask for references (if they seem uneasy giving info out, ask them to ask a few parents, past and present, and/or others who have knowledge to call you). Ask references what knowledge they have about the center and provider. If they use them now are they happy. If they don't use them why or why not. Ask their honest opinion.

Sometimes, they may give you the "by the book answers" but I always prefered the answers that rang true even if it wasn't exactly by the book. I would recommend going with your gut (even if for no other reason than your mother's intuition you don't like the provider, choose a different one). Also, if you agree to something the least bit different than their contract, make sure it is in the contract before you sign it (and keep a copy).



answers from Washington DC on

State licensed and inspected.

What is their policy on bottles? - most of the time for infants you provide the premade bottles or formula and the bottles are made on demand and then any table foods are provided by you.

Sick policy - how long do you have from notification that your child is sick to when he has to be picked up by.

What day of the week is payment due? - some centers are pay Monday for the upcoming week. Some are pay Friday for the week just finished.

What are the security features? - how do they control who comes/goes.

What diapering supplies do they supply vs. you? - one public center I had to provide diapers and wipes that were labelled and used on just my son. My in-home provider has me provide just diapers and she provides the wipes.

Vaccation policy for you and them? - when we go on vacation we still pay my sitter for the week. When she goes on vacation, we still pay her for the week. I don't mind paying her for the week she is off, I mean I expect a paid vacation, why shouldn't she? I schedule her vacation week as my vacation week.

In most cases you will be expected to provide all diapers. We have a bag of clothes and naptime blanket that come/go every day.

As for payment, if you are considered a full time slot, you will be required to pay whether your child is there or not. Ex. my son was sick for 3 days last week, but I still paid the 5 day amount. One daycare we had allowed us 1 week vacation without pay, you had to tell them in advance. My current daycare does not have that.



answers from Rochester on and/or (linked websites). If you contact your local CCRR (first website) you can also talk to them about state regulations and make sure that you know not only what a good fit/quality is, but what is required so you can make sure your daycare meets any regulations. Most important is just feeling really comfortable.


answers from Minneapolis on

If you know ahead of time what goes into being licensed in your state, that helps give you a baseline. Like what training is required/how often...what sort of safety drills they need to do for fires and storms..preparation, logging of them, etc. What sorts of things are required for ratios, the space used, etc. Most parents have NO idea what a provider goes thru to make the space that a family also lives in, becomes a childcare work space as well. I know for a fact my house is safer than any on my street due to the extra State Fire Marshall inspections, the required fire retardant sheet rock on the underside of my floor (in my crawl space) to get us to the main exits of the home...many providers have to replace windows so they are a specific size, etc. In my state the regulations for things like where plastic baggies, wraps, medications, cleaners and many other things you might not think of are very strict...regular child locks are NOT ok....but magnetic locks are. According to my hubby they are a major PITA to install..but I have them everywhere in my house, so we can still live here as a family.

Other poster complained of a place she visited (and disliked) for not allowing kids to sit on her furniture or have shoes on in the house. I have those same rules, but after all these years I have dedicated daycare space and there is NO adult furniture in the room. I have an "unlicensed" living room upstairs where daycare kids are NOT allowed. It is gated off during the day, as it does not meet the safety standards....again, it is family space, not daycare space. There is nothing wrong with wanting your home clean or some rules followed to keep the wear and tear to a minimum. I do not allow shoes as babies crawl on those surfaces. Need I say more..ish.

Fenced yards, well maintained playground equip that is multi-age appropriate is good to look for. Ask to see sleeping spaces (look for the age of beds, bedding..general shabbiness of all areas and equipment). Remember that if the provider has no infants in care, they may not have any infant furniture out, such as high chairs, exersaucers, jumpers, etc. Personally, I try not to use seats and jumpers any longer than needed and push for mobility. Highchairs take up precious space as well, so when not needed they go into the shed or crawl space around here. So if you don't see, ask about that stuff.

Ask if there if they are on a USDA Food Program. Mine requires I offer one brand of formula (my choice of brand however). If parents use my brand (or wean their child onto that one) it can save them alot of money. Ask what you will have to provide..bottles, nuks, bedding, food. If nursing, are they OK with that (I know many who will not "handle" breastmilk), and what is their preferred handling (I prefer frozen flat bags, brought to me in batches, and I provide bottles once I know what kind is used). Also, will you be bringing them a diaper bag each day filled with supplies? Or do you bring "batches" of things to be left there? This is what I do so parents just have to bring me a child most days. Packs of diapers and several outfits are left here and I buy bottles and supply all food.

You will likely get a good "gut" feeling one way or the other...of the home and spaces used,and of the provider...if shes well spoken and passionate about her work..if she discusses trainings or extended schooling shes done perhaps (I LOVE training and usually have at least 3-4 times what I am required to do and just last May completed my Child Development degree as an old lady student (LOL) with a perfect 4.0 GPA) .....maybe shes involved in an association or local provider group....these are signs of a healthy provider who networks with other providers!

Having good paperwork, organized things in this area..policy book spelling things out, etc. And having paid time off is NOT a bad thing. We work alot of hours each week and need down time too. Some get paid vacations..some just charge a bit more and take unpaid vacation days, etc. We need time to go to our kids conferences and science/art fairs..and to go to the dentist. Its different all over how providers deal with these things. This is our career....our life's work for some of us. We get very few standard benefits and if we are not "healthy", we will not last long caring for several young children.

OK, I am done..LOL. Thats all I have for to feed a baby who woke. Break is over.

Good luck!



answers from Oklahoma City on

Be sure and go to the website for your local state agency that will be licensing the care facility. They show the licensing inspection's, they show if the facility has had non compliance issues, some are simple things like a missing plug cover or someone missed a shot, but bug things will stand out. They can also show if the facility is up to minimum standards.



answers from New York on

Go to your state website and look at the Office of Child and Family Services information. In New York, there is actually a whole "checklist" of questions to ask which we used when looking into child care!

You can ask anything, including when the center/person was last inspected and whether or not they were cited. This information is also available on your state site- it will tell you what they were cited for, when and whether or not it was "corrected".

I also asked whether or not the person would be comfortable having a therapist work at her home if my son would ever need speech, OT, PT... I work in special education so that was important for me. Ask about meals, medications, emergency procedurese, etc.

Make sure that you only used licensed providers. They will likely give you a folder of information to review! I know it sounds weird, but you will find someone you "click" with and that's your person! We interviewed a ton of people who had all of the right answers, but I just didn't feel like I could go to them with questions or concerns.

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