How to Select Daycare and What to Ask References

Updated on April 04, 2007
A.S. asks from Alamo, CA
5 answers

I'm looking for part time daycare for my 13 month old. I've read tons of articles on what to look for, but I'd like to know from other moms' experiences what to look for, what to steer clear of and what to ask when I call references.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I am a daycare provider, and the bottom line is that you have to go with your gut. Shop around! There are good and bad. The resourse and referral agencies list any provider with a license, and believe when I say "It does not take much to get one. However, there are many providers who go over and above the call of duty to make their daycares the best that they can be in every way.

There was a comment in one response about just dropping in and visiting. I personally do not allow anybody to just drop in to my daycare for security reasons, unless their child is here. This is a strange world that we live in. The children that I care for are not mine. and they need to be protected. I do not allow strangers in my home during my business hours. The first appointment is when no children are present. This way, I am able to interview the parents and the children. If the initial interview goes well, they are given a certain day with morning, and afternoon hours to drop in. I do not allow drop in visits during nap time, because nap time is sacred.
The reason I pick a certain day, and certain hours is so I can prepare the children for a visiter, and not because I am hiding something. The children have a right to know what to expect. Having a visitor throws their daily routine off and it is the only way for them to tell time.

The two major areas that you should focus on are health and safety, and relationship. Toys and activities don't mean a thing, if the provider is cold. Listen for happy kids, and the way the provider responds to them. A lot of it is common sense.

Some will depend on your budget. How much can you afford. A good daycare is not cheap.

Do you want a daycare that is highly academic or one that offers learning through play. Some highly academic ones sit children of all ages in chairs for a lengthy amount of time to do various academic activities. There are also those, like me, who offer learning through play. There are many that offer nothing but TV and Juck food. Which one do you want?

There are some that care for children 6weeks to 13 Years. Many do drop off and pick up froms school and may want to strap your little on in a carseat for the ride. Is this OK with you?
The car thing is one thing, but the influence of some of the older kids may not be good. Small children need to be protected. They will be influenced soon enough by others when they school.

You could interview parents at the door during drop-off or pick-up, but if the kids are still there, chances are,
the parents are happy having their kids there. Pick-up and drop-off times are important times for all concerned. It is a time for important message exchanges, so if you do decide to do this, you may want to do it out by the curb to avoid confusion.

You could call licensing to verify the status of the daycare license, and find out about any complaints. You could also ask if the provider is accredited. The NAFCC website lists accredited providers.

Ask about a food program, daily routine, handwashing, gloves,and daycare insurance among other things.

I could go on and on, but please GO WITH YOUR GUT. You will know when you walk into the daycare of your dreams, and don't stop looking until you do.

I hope that these ideas help you.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I don't know about where you live but here in Sacramento there is an Agency called Child Action, it helps low income families pay for day care, it also gives referrals, more like resumes, to parents looking for daycare. I used it to get a list of daycares in my area when I was looking for a daycare. I also did a yahoo search and one of the referrals I got also pulled up on my search, it was right around the corner from my home. I called and went to look at it, then I took my son there about 4 times and we visited so I could get a feel of how it was ran and how he interacted with the other children. I aksed all kinds of questions, when it comes to our children there are no types of questions to steer clear from, what ever you feel you need to ask do it!!! Hope this helps! GOOD LUCK!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bakersfield on

I live in Shafter Ca, and I am a provider I have my license trhough the State and city but my advice is contact to Community Connection for childcare
661 861 5200 and they have a safe a secure places for you children even if you dont leave near to this area they work all California
any other question send a message to us
Mary & Ray



answers from Fresno on

Visit alot. and go with your first gutt feeling when you first walk in. don't let things go if you have a bad feeling. Your first thought is always right.
If the providers home is clean and the kids seem happy then your on the right track. i did day care out of my home for many years and really really enjoyed it. and that comes across when parents come to visit. so just go with your gutt.
thats my best advice.



answers from Stockton on

first decide if you want her in a home based center or a center based program. When you call, ask if you have to arrange a tour or if you can just "drop in". A center that invites you to "drop in" get the green light. :)

When you tour, check for safety. Are there sharp corners? Are the outlets covered? Are the toys in good repair? Is there an adequate staff/child ratio? (licensing says 4 infants per teacher)

Are there enough toys in the room for all the children? Are the toys developmentally appropriate?

How do you feel when you walk in the room? when i sent my son to daycare for the first time, i liked everything... okay... but talked myself into it and i shouldn't have. Everything be "okay" is a red flag to find something that's "great!"

If you can come during drop off/pick up times, you can ask other parents their experiences... because they are the best references. Take your time in choosing and you and your baby will have a great experience!

Hope this helps!

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