Interviewing a Daycare Questions?

Updated on November 03, 2010
D.V. asks from Milpitas, CA
9 answers

I am looking at a few centers (in home and larger) for my son to attend 3 full days a week. I have 2 appts tomorrow with 2 in home small daycares. He is 15 months old, and this is the first time him and I will be doing this. My question is... what do i ask them? what kind of questions do I ask to make sure its the right place? what should i look for.. and so on?

My Mom can't help she hasnt had us in daycare in 20 years, and my husband has never had to do this either since my MIL is a SAHM. So any info will help i'm lost but want my son taken care of!

thank you.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

emergency questions like what is your policy, or arrangments if a child needs emergency care, who do they contact first, what hospital will they take him to? fire plans, tornado plans, if a flood happens, if school closes due to severe weather will they be open, (more than likely not)

teacher/child ratio
dicipline methods (corporal is usually not practiced-in oklahoma, corporal punishment can have severe consequenses and almost every daycare i've had will not do it)
transportation methods for any circumstance, emergency, field trips, etc
photography permission slips (every day care i've had will not take pictures of a child unless parents sign a permission slip)
eating and nap schedule
make sure you get a handbook, then hand book should include the director's/owner's info, schedules, policy's etc

i would take him with you and let him play with the other kids that he'll be spending the day with to see how he'll interact with them

i would also strongly advise to just show up unexpectedly every now and then to see how they are interacting behind your back
LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD if he comes home one day acting completely different or is afraid to go back to school all the sudden, listen to his actions, they may tell you if something is wrong.
teacher's SHOULDN'T have their kids in the same class as their children check that policy

don't EVER let a teacher or director turn a conference down to you. my daughter was in a day care her teacher's son was in the same class as my daughter, well all of the sudden there started becoming problems. my daughter and this boy were commiting adult acts that the faculity laughed at at first, then later decided it was getting out of hand (duh!) i was talking to the director and asked for a conference, she told me that she was busy and had a lot of kids there, finished the call with me, then called my daughter's dad (knowing we're divorced) and told him she wasn't busy, just didn't want to talk to me at that moment....i was FURIOUS and so was he, we met up there together, and complained about it. the following morning i talked to her teacher and asked who's kid this was that was acting like this with my daughter, surely enough she admited it was her's, that answered my question, i took her out of the day care immediately, called the owner and filed a complaint with her and DHS, i checked the records later, and apparently that was going on with other kids...needless to say the daycare is under different mgnt now and both the director and the teacher had been fired.

i don't say this to scare you but to stress the importance to KNOW what goes on with your son when he's at any daycare, no matter how long he's there, he may be there for years, but if he keeps getting new teacher's they may have a high turn over rate, and that would raise a concern for me.

you have a lot of GREAT advice on here, dont' be afraid to write everything down that comes to mind so you don't forget..maybe start you a folder of everythign, this will especially come in handy if something goes wrong between you and the facility

3 moms found this helpful


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.

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).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

If you visit the website they have a lot of good resources for parents, including videos, webinars, and printable checklists for child care visits/interviews. You can also contact your local child care resource and referral agency (you should be able to find them through Child Care Aware) and get some information from them so you know a bit more about licensed/regulated care and what you can expect to see and what you should see. Ultimately, as most have said, you have to be very comfortable with the place.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

I'm not sure what time you have your interviews scheduled for BUT I would DO THE INTERVIEW DURING THE DAY so you can see how the provider interacts with the children. And take you child with so you can see his reaction to the environment as well!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You've gotten some good responses.

Payment policy: money due Monday for the week ahead; money due Friday for the week ending; paying for when child is sick/vacation

Something that was key for me was their diaper changing/potty training policy. You may think that he won't train for a while, but they may not think that. One provider I know would start the kids trainging as soon as they could walk. Another provider started as soon as they turned two.

When I asked one center they said they had a 'hands off' policy. What does that mean?? When the child messes, they clean up the floor if needed, and change the childs clothes, put them in a bag, but they would NOT clean up the child unless it was a health issue.... ???? This was for a 2 1/2 year old child. The very next center we went to said that they had a full training room and would clean the child, area, etc, and send the soiled clothes home that day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would first go with your "gut" - I looked for warm and caring people who seemed to generally like and care about children and enjoy spending time with them. Ask what they supply (food, milk, etc) and what you have to bring (diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, anything else?). Ask about nap arrangements (in dim room versus light or surrounded by older kids who are making constant noice -- remember, if this is the case, you kid will probably NOT sleep at daycare and you will have a crabby toddler EVERY EVENING at home). Ask about outside time (play or walks), how often they clean their toys and with what, what their sick policy is (our old daycare before we got an au pair required pickup within 1 hour if your kid was sick--we commute to the city BY TRAIN -- it was often impossible to meet their expectations), how often they up their rates and what other expectations they may have (donations, fundraisers -you might be surprised), etc. You might ask about discipline policies too -- as much for your child as for children that might hit, scratch, bite or throw things at your son over happens.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

There is a lot of information on " baby center . com ", including interview sheets and questions:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I've never put my kids in daycare, but if I did I'd ask....

How many children do they look after?
What if the primary care provider is sick? Backup providers? Will you meet that person?
Who provides snacks and meals?
What discipline tools does the provider use?
Is the provider licensed and insured (depending on your area)?
What is a typical day like?
How much outside time do the children get?
Do the children ever watch tv? What programs? How long?

Look at the location. Is it separate from the rest of the house? Is there access to outside? Is it bright and inviting? Check out the change station area; is there a belt on the changing pad? Are the toys clean and in good condition (nothing broken)? Are the toys/books age appropriate for your child?

Ask for references and FOLLOW UP!! Call every person they provide you with and ask anything you can think of. Were they happy with the care their children recieved? Were there any issues/problems? What happened if/when the provider was sick?

Good luck with your decision!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I used the following list when I was picking out a daycare (after lots of google searches this is the list I came up with)... I would print out my list and just write the answers on the page for each daycare I went to. My son was 6 months when he started daycare so some of these questions might not apply to a 15 month old.

Daycare Questions:

1. Are you licensed?

2. What is your infant to staff ratio?

3. Is the staff training in infant/child CPR and/or First Aid ?

4. Are the infants separated from the older children?

5. Do the infants each have their own crib?

6. Are they held when they are fed?

7. How are bottles stored? Will you store breast milk and feed it to my baby?

8. How often are diaper changes?

9. How often are they rocked/held?

10. Are the babies regularly played with, cuddled, taken outside?

11. What is the approach to soothing a crying baby?

12. What is a typical day like?

13. Can we visit/drop in during the day?

14. What is the cost? Are they any additional fees or supplies I will have to pay/

15. Must you pay if the child is absent?

16. Is there a charge if we are late to pick up the baby?

17. What are your hours?

18. What holidays are you closed for?

19. What is your sick policy for babies?

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