Mom Seeking Help on What to Ask In-home Child Care Candidates!

Updated on April 26, 2007
M. asks from Minneapolis, MN
10 answers

Hello All! I'm interviewing a few candidates to care for my (will then be) 6 week old and I'm wondering if any of you have a list of questions I can ask so I cover all my bases? It seems kind of obvious, but I'd like to make sure I ask everything!

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answers from Minneapolis on has a question/answer sheet for FREE on their website. Check it out, it will give you everything you need to know, plus the site offers other advice and tips. Good luck, good, quality infant daycare is hard to find. Good to see you are checking into it so early. THis website also lets you search for providers.


answers from Minneapolis on

The resource is great...also....resources for childcaring and both have referral resources.

Ask about training, what they have taken recently (you can ask to see cert's if you want), their experience with infants, their prefernces with infants (many only like to have one at a time, I have no problem with filling my 3 kids under 2 years old (2 can be infants) on my license (I have also cared for 2 sets of twins from the age of 10 weeks)....

Make sure you see the areas they have access to within the house and outside, ask if they have a policy book and review it, ask about subs or the "what ifs"...what if provider is sick, what if your child gets sick while there, what if there is an emerg, what about vacations for family or provider, what about naps, activities, pets, tv time (alot of providers use the tv for the transition at drop off and pick up, or have toys and books with charachters like tv never goes on...don't have one in a daycare area of the house...but my kids all know these characters too)....ask about curriculum or understanding that providers get vacations and are sick just like you are, and expect to get paid on payday.......

Ask to see their license, ask how long they have been licensed, ask how long families tend to stay with them, how many kids they think have gone thru their program in the time they have been open, maybe ask why they decided to do home dc..answers may be many and varied on that one!

Ask about field trips and travleing in a vehicle (in MN licensed providers are now required to have a certain training for car seat safety.....but most do not know that unless you have commercial insurance which is WAY spendy, you will not be covered if in an auto accident with daycare kids in your vehicle...even if you have daycare liability insurance, etc...check with Tom Copeland at Redleaf on that matter what your car ins place says, they will drop the ball on you and say "oh, no, that was a business trip you were taking...we are not gonna cover that!") the internet and you will find many lists and just take what you think will work for you.

Good luck



answers from Madison on

I also provide in-home daycare and had my children in full time daycare before I worked from home. Here are some questions I would make sure to many other children they have at the same time and what are the kids ages (I don't recommend there be more than one other infant), how they handle when more than one child is crying or is in need of something at the same time, how they handle napping, where the kids nap (making sure that your child will be able to sleep in that situation), REFERENCES!! Get old references, current references and the newest family as a reference, does the provider seem to be active with the children and do more than just provide toys and sit back and watch (outside time is mandatory for certified and licensed providers), what are the policies about payments, deposits, closings, vacation days, sick days, open/close times, etc... Hope this helps and maybe gives you more ideas for questions. Good Luck! J.



answers from Minneapolis on

My son is now 1 and has been in in-home care since he was 3 months old. I asked a few questions in interviews and ended up luckily finding a wonderful provider. Here's what I wish I would have asked more about:

What kind of activities do you include the younger children in?

What is your emergency plan?

What will you include in the fee? Diapers? Wipes, Formula? Will you need to provide all creams, sunscreen, etc?

CALL REFERENCES - find out how often the provider takes vacation/sick days on average and if they get good notice.

Find out if she/he has recently cared for an infant.

I'd also want to know just a little about the other kids that are cared for there. Are there any concerns about how they would respond to an infant?




answers from Minneapolis on

All the other responders have great questions to ask.

Make sure you also ask if they are licenced.



answers from Minneapolis on

Congrats on becomeing a mommy. As a licensed daycare provider and mom of 4, please ask if they have any other infants as they are only allowed 2 if they have a group of 10, and 1 if they have a group of 12. Ask if they have lots of time to hold and coo with your baby, Ask about food program...if they offer a food program, they would provide formula for your baby. Best wishes!



answers from Duluth on

Hi M.!!

I have both provided daycare and had my children in daycare, some of the things I would say...

FIRST AND FOREMOST, if you want to REALLY be able to talk to your potential provider, don't try going during business hours!! Maybe it is something some like to do, to see how it 'really is', but let me tell you... The kids are with one/two adults, day in day out, when a new person pops in, holy cow, new person, lets put on the naughty show!! If the way it is when a new person is in the house is how it was ALL the time, I think half of us would quit!! Drop in, but not with the intention of interviewing her, you take her attention from where it belongs, on the kids already there! I hate when I see parents cheering on just dropping in.

I've asked if they were or were not licensed. If not licensed, I asked for a criminal background check on all adults in the home, not just the ones present while my kids were there, things happen and someone who isn't normally there may have to be there. Ask for and follow up on all references (license or no), I prefer 3 - 5 personal references, maybe some from current or former clients. I would not write off someone who is not licensed, there are reasons they may not go through it. You are supposed to be the only family they have, though, if they are not licensed, aside from drop ins for a certain # of hours per calender year.

For all providers, I'd want to see their policies and some examples of how it's being followed. You KNOW when you are being inspected by the county and can prepare for it, same as an interview, so a licensor may not get the picture of how it really is day to day. That's why I don't hold faith in a license displayed on a wall!! Your instincts will tell you a lot, too. If you don't feel comfortable, don't go with her. I made the mistake once, completely impressed with her set up and her licensing and calm demeanor, but there was 'something' that made me feel like a toddler in a china shop and after one day, we terminated because she was NOT ready for an active toddler, she freaked cause my dd broke her glass flower she hadn't put up! So follow your gut. I found another lady after her whose house was smaller, messier, but got a great vibe from her and it went so much better!

-Why is she doing childcare?
-Special training?
-If she has other older kids, how will she physically handle your little guy while occupying the older ones? It can be done, but it's fun to watch! lol
-How many other kids and what ages?
-Does she let the baby cry it out - or other personal preferences you may have, one of my parents likes me to use baby sign language with their son and I accomodate - would she accomodate special requests?
-typical day
-menus (my parents prefer the baby's food is our food ground up before adding spices, I'm cool with that! I did it with my own kids) and where will child be fed?
-what supplies do you need to provide? I ask for sun block, diaper oinments, diapers (although I provide diapers for $25 per month from Sam's if it's easier), 2 changes of clothing
- I'd expect daily communication in writing or verbally!
- house rules for myself (your baby won't be breaking any!! lol)
-what areas will the children be in and how do you keep them OUT of the other areas?
-where will my sunshine sleep?
- Other adults home during day
- Safety precautions and emergency procedures
- Use of Provider's car, see the carseats and how they are put in, VERY important because I have seen so many put in wrong. The local police stations offer car seat services, showing you how to put them in, I'd go for myself!
- Other issues: pets, smoking, parent drop-in visits, religious training (my kids say prayers at their meals, I have been up front in every case before hand, in case the kids pick up on it!), methods of redirecting & training

Well, hope I didn't blather on! I hope you find a place you feel comfortable with. Something from the provider in me, I have LOVED, liked, and tolerated certain kids throughout the years (don't lie, guys, not many can adore every single kid - or more often parent!), make SURE your provider loves him or likes him. It doesn't make her a bad person if a connection cannot be made, it's just the personal bond. Make sure she's not willing to keep a child solely for monetary reasons. And treat your provider with top notch respect. Do not be late, do NOT pay late, do not feel ownership over her time. It's her job, in her home, with her family. Sometimes parents can do things that irritate providers and cause resentment. I've had it done to me and seen it done to others. We're important, your child is important!!



answers from Janesville-Beloit on

In addition to what the others have suggested. I would also ask how often the toys are sanitised and what they are sanitised with. They should be sanitised at least once daily with a bleach solution. What kind of activities do the children participate in? Does she have a fenced in lawn? What do the infants do during outside time? I'd put a big stresser on how many children she has. Ask to view the license. It will tell you on there the maximum amount of children the provider can have. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

1. How strict are you your illness policy, is she good at not letting contagious kids in. Some providers are to relaxed about it.

2. What's the maximum amt. of children you will have in your home?

3. What is a typical meal?

4. Remember to ask questions that would if you had a toddler since sooner or later your child will be a toddler.

5. Do you take vacation time if so what kind of notice do the parents recieve in advance.

6. What do you do or what would you do if you got hurt or were frustrated? Is there another adult that can be called asap?

7. Ask about the schedule

8. Ask about her policy's, rules, if they go on field trips stuff like that.



answers from Milwaukee on


First of all go visit the center unannounced to see the real deal. Usually people put up a front when they know people are coming.
Second look to see where this daycares license is: is it posted and has this daycare been sited for many violations?

There also should be a daily schedule etc posted.

Being that you have an infant:
ask how many she will have in the home? If she is licensed she should only have 4 that are under the age of 2 and that is it.

Ask what is her policies and procedures on infant care such as where do the babies sleep? Do they share a crib?
What do you provide for my infant? Diapers, formula, baby food ( jar) wipes. If the daycare provides any of these items, know that you are going to be charged for them.

Ask for references to find more about this person.

Ask how long this facility has been in business. Usually when a daycare has been in business 5 years plus, it usually a plus.

If this daycare has a policy handbook, I would ask to see it to review it, ask if you will get your own.

Vacation days for you: do you have to pay if you take a vacation for a week off the daycare? Or do you have to pay if the daycare provider takes one?

That is all I can think of off hand.

Good luck.

Caring for kids daycare

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