How much do you really know about the daycare providers you’re researching? You’ve looked at their web sites, read their mission statements, maybe even clicked through a few photo galleries and learned something about their staff. But the reality is that you, as a parent, need a lot more information before you’ll have the confidence you need to leave your child in the care of someone else — no matter how good their reputation may be.
The problem is, most parents don’t know exactly where to find this information, or even what information they’re looking for specifically. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 8 questions we think you, the parent, should ask your daycare provider. By doing so, we think you’ll gain greater peace of mind for yourself and your family, and have a better chance at finding the very best daycare center for your child.
- Are you licensed and insured?
These basic qualifications are often assumed, but discerning parents shouldn’t take them for granted. Be sure to ask for specifics, and be wary of any daycare center who can’t (or won’t) provide them.
- Can you tell me about your staff?
The most reputable daycare centers have staff who are highly trained. At least some will hold qualifications in teaching, early child development, or even medicine. Detailed background checks should be mandatory. As for staff turnover, a daycare center that looks like a “revolving door” for restless staff is not a good sign.
- What about the ratio of teachers to children?
More teachers means more individualized attention, supervision and care for your child. Too many daycares are swamped with children and short on staff. The result is a lower level of care.
- What’s the schedule like?
Daycare should be much more than a safe haven for your child. It should be a dynamic, social, interactive learning experience with a blend of “free time” and structured activities.
- Does anyone on staff have medical training? How do you react in an emergency?
This is one of the most sensitive and important areas for a parent to talk about. Having full confidence in your daycare center in the event of an emergency is crucial to feeling good about your choice.
- Is the area secure?
Knowing that your child’s daycare center is in a safe and secure building, with proper emergency protocols in case of events like tornado or fire, gives the parent added peace of mind.
- Is the center cleaned regularly, and by whom?
Maintaining high sanitary standards is crucial to the health of your child and ever other child in a daycare center. As a parent, you deserve to know about the center’s cleaning policies.
- Can you handle my child’s special requirements?
This is a big one. Many children have special dietary or educational requirements. It’s important to know up front whether your daycare center is fully equipped to handle them.
Zeroing in on the right choice
Choosing a daycare center (or deciding whether or not to move to a new daycare center) is a formidable task, especially with all the existing pressures of work and family life. But it’s a monumental decision, and you need all the helpful information you can get. Don’t settle for a daycare center who doesn’t fulfill every one of your needs as a parent. There are daycare centers out there who consistently exceed expectations — it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.