What to Ask And/or See When We Are Looking for Childcare/daycares

Updated on August 22, 2006
R.G. asks from Saint Paul, MN
10 answers

I am currently looking at childcares/daycares, and I wonder if you have tips about what I really need to see and ask when I am looking for one of those for my baby (3month old).

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

I went prepared with a list of questions to ask.
Some of the daycare didn't like so many questions though, but that was ok, because I could realize that if they cannot take so many questions, ow they can take care of my son?
thank you all for your help!

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answers from Milwaukee on

My name is S.. My wife and I have been running our own in-home child care for almost nine years, since our first child was born. We now have 5 in-home child cares in Bay View, Milwaukee, and West Allis. We have a website that might help you through some of the questions that you have it's http://www.kayeshouse.com/ I allways say to perspective clients "even if you do not choose us at least you are well enough informed to ask other providers the right questions".

Choosing the right child care arrangement for you and your child is a very important decision for your family. It can also be a very difficult one. It is best to examine your own beliefs and values about bringing up children. Try to find a caregiver that has values you respect and will give your child individual, caring attention. This booklet contains information, ideas, and suggestions to help you make the best possible choice.
*Trust Your Feelings
Pay attention to your 'initial feelings and intuitions. While there are concrete things you can ask or observe, it is okay to act on your feelings. Do you sense that the caregiver genuinely cares about children? Is the caregiver open to talking about policies and answering your questions? Or do they seem impatient or defensive?
**Check References
Ask the provider/director for references of parents who currently have their children enrolled, and of parents whose children have left the program. Follow up on references!

**Avoid Care Hopping
Changing child care is confusing and disruptive to a child. So try to avoid starting in one child care setting, then finding it unsatisfactory and moving to another. Make a wise choice from the start by using this guide. This does not mean that you should never change child care, but there should be good reasons for doing so.

Work with your child care provider
To ensure the best possible care for your child, you and the child care provider need to work together. This means listening, respecting, and communicating. Building a stable relationship with the provider will improve the quality of care your child receives.

*Continue to Evaluate
After you have found care that meets your needs and standards, do not stop there. Continue to evaluate the care by visiting the home or center, listening to what your child tells you about their day, and asking questions of the children and provider.

*Cost of Child Care
For most people, cost is a very important factor in the selection of a child care facility. Research shows that for some families, child care is the second largest expense in the household budget. "Why is care so expensive?" Understanding where your child care dollars go is an important step in choosing quality child care. Expenses such as personnel, facility, food, supplies, water/heat, and toys/equipment/art supplies are all part of your child care costs. Often times providers put in many hours after the children have left for cleaning/sanitizing daycare items, shopping for daycare items, and preparing daily activities for the children. All of these things are part of your child care costs.

Quality child care is not expensive - **It's PRICELESS!

Here are some basic Questions and answers

Q* What are your hours?
A*5:30am to 5:30pm

Q*Are they flexible?
A*No, Our minimum is 40 hours.

Q* How many children do you care for?
A*A maximum of 8 at any location

Q*What are their ages?
A*We are licensed from 6 weeks old to 12 years *old.

Q* What is the cost?
A*$4.50 an hour.

Q* Is there a multi-child rate?
A*Yes .50 cents off for each additional child per *hour.

Q* Are there extra charges or registration fees?
A*$25 year registration, and $10 per month for
the child's curriculum(children start the
curriculum when they are ready - usually
about the age of 2).

Q* Do you provide food?
A*Yes. Regular table food.

Q* Do you smoke?

Q*What do I need to bring for my child?
A*Change of clothes. If needed, Diapers,
wipes, and baby care items.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

here's a list of questions to ask:

http://tinyurl.com/j786b for home daycares


http://tinyurl.com/kzn2k for day care centers

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I didn't read all of the responses below, but, I myself, as a childcare provider always make this information available to those who are interested in my program and those who are 'first timers' when seeking childcare.

**Background clearance for both my husband and myself.
**Parent evaluations, these are done each year.
**Parent/provider question checklist (you can obtain these from socail services, I hand them out freely at my interviews). I can possibly e-mail a copy to you.
** current license, which should be posted
** training certificataions
** name and contact information for thier county licensor
** a list of all of the "A-PLUS" things I offer in my program

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on


Dakota County has a great guide of what to look for and questions to ask for both in-home or centers.
Here is the link:


R. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

If contact the Dakota County childcare liscensing center they will give you a list of liscensed providers and what questions you can ask. They will also give you evaluations on your top pick or two once you've done a phone interview. They mail you a packet that has questions so pick and choose which ones are important to you. I've found that when I ask how they disapline it's I remove the child from the area or I explain to them why they shouldn't behave that way and distract them.
The diaper thing is either every 2-3 hours or as needed.
Mine would be....
1. If you breastfeed are they okay with handling?
2. How often are diapers changed?
3. How do they handle potty training?
4. Is there late fees for early drop or pick up?
5. Do you get paid weekly?
6. How much vacation time do you take? Is there a specific time of year you always take it?
7. Is there toys and activities for all age groups?
8. How much time do the kids have outside? Weather permitting?
9. How much TV is on during the day?
10.Do you do a daily log sheet of what my child did during the day, when the child ate, peed, pooped, if the child was happy or sad?
11. Will the provider listen to you in what you want. If you want your child changed every 2 hours no matter what will they do it? If you want bug spray on your child will they do it? If you want your child to sit on the potty after every meal will they do it?

I'm not sure but this is what I came up with. Hope this was helpful.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I would recommend a childcare if it's in home that's it licensed or certified, espically since your child is still a baby. I'm a certified provider and we are required to have background checks and the state/county comes out and checks your home out (very throughly I might add - took 2 hours) and then they do surprise visits through out the year. The provider is also required to take classes specific to the age group they work with. Good Luck on your search. The question samples given in other posts should get all your questions answered.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Duluth on

I'd ask for a current criminal background check on all people over 13 in the home. Get references, personal and professional and follow up on them. I would want to meet everyone that would be around my child and see every room they will have access to. I'd bring my child during non-childcare hours and see how they react/interact with them. During childcare hours is not fair to the provider, the kids get crazy and testy with new people around and you're asking her to divide her attention, it's not how it really is when you're not there. Ask to see a sample menu. WHat really matters to you? For me, I wanted somewhat of a religious slant when mine were in childcare, I wanted them to learn about other cultures, very little tv and video game time, homey, had to be messy at the end of the day or it was fishy to me! lol Now, I provide care in my own home, but I always remember what it was like to be looking for someone I could trust with my little ones. She should ALWAYS be willing to let you visit, but respect naptime, it messes up everyone's day. A locked door should be fine, it keeps unwanted people out and little people in, it doesn't mean they are up to something wrong. Trust your gut! Best of luck finding your son a daycare home!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Contact Dakota Co Community Services and request a list of all licensed daycare providers within a 2/3 mile radius of your house. That's a good place to start calling/interviewing.

Good Luck!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

As someone who has worked in childcare and had my children in the childcare center I worked in I can tell you that before I fully committed to taking the job I had my daughter in the infant room of the center I was working at while I was going through my orientaion. What you want to know up front is what the ratio is. For the state of Minnesota the ratio in a day care of child care center by law is 1 staff member to every four infants and how it works is that if there are only four infants in the room then that staff person should teacher qualified. If there are 8 babies in the room there should be 1 teacher qualified staff person and 1 aide. If there are 12 babies in the room there should be two teacher qualified staff people and one aide. infant rooms should be qualified to handle no more than 12 infants. For a toddler room its 1 staff for every 7 toddlers and again 7 tods then 1 teacher qualified staff, 14 tods 1 teacher qualified staff 1 aide. preschool its one staff for every ten preschoolers but again its the same rules as stated with the the other rooms 10 preschoolers t teacher qualified staff 20 preschoolers 1 teacher qualified staff and 1 aide. for toddler rooms MN law says they can have no more than 14 toddlers in each room and for preschool rooms its no more than 20 in a room. You also want to know what the curriculum is. Some daycares teach infant sign language. you want to see that the teacher in the infant roon is caring and you also want to see that she has a good reliable aide working with her becasue remember there may be days where the teacher may call in sick or have to leave early and the aide will need to step up. That was the biggest strength for me was that before I was given charge of my classrooom when I wokred under other teachers the parents never worred when the teachers called in or had to leave early or went on vacation becasue they knew i immedialtey stepped up and had things under control and kept things running as smooth and close to normal as possible.

I hope this helps you. If you need more infor just let me know

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

If you didn't get all the info you wanted from the other posters, email me at [email protected]____.com and I can likely send you stuff...my concierge service at work sent me some reports that were great and included questions to ask when we were finding our daycare providor. I don't know if I have them electronically yet but could fax them to you or myself and then email them to you. Thanks! C.

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