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Daycare

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
DH and I are interviewing daycare centers in the next few weeks. For those of you who have daycare experience (sent a LO there, worked in one, or remember your own experiences), what do I need to know? What should I look for? What should I ask?

I was raised by a SAHM and I never went to daycare or preschool, so I'm not sure what to look for or ask. I'm googling it as well, but I trust you ladies, so if you have any thoughts, please share!

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post #2 of 10
Here is my list from my DD, I didn't ask all these questions at once and a lot get answered on your tour or in info they will give you, I put in parentheses some explanation or thoughts behind the question, usually I'd ask the financial and age questions in the initial phone call, then go on the tour and ask any unanswered questions at the end or in follow up e-mails:
  1. Any specific clothing you require/recommend for infants? (Most don't have this, but one I visited did and it turned me off)
  2. What is your late pickup policy? (So if you are late, how much will they charge, etc.)
  3. Do you have part-time options? (Even if you don't want to use it, it is good to know just in case circumstance change or for future maternity leave)
  4. Before/after school care? Summer care? Costs? (good to know if you like them a lot and want to use them some when your child is in school)
  5. Cost breakdown of all ages?
  6. What ages of chlidren do you take? (Most daycares will take kids as young as 6 weeks and mine goes all the way through middle school age I believe with the before/after/summer care)
  7. What do I need to bring for my child? (Usually for infants: diapers, wipes, labeled bottles with BM or formula and most will make formula there and store some backup frozen BM, blanket, lovey/pacifier)
  8. What if my child is really attached to a lovey? Will you work with us with that within reason? (Most daycares are cool with a pacifier and blanket from home, some are ok with random loveys depending what they are)
  9. What holidays is the center closed? (Mine closes for the major holidays and has some close early days like Christmas Eve & New Years Eve)
  10. Is there any allotted time I can take my child out and not pay, or pay a reduced rate, for family vacations? (Mine allows you to take a week off, has to be consecutive, and not pay for that week once a year)
  11. Do you have standard transition plan and if not what do you recommend for the first couple of days/weeks to ease the transition?
  12. Can I bring my baby in for a visit or two prior to full-time to get her introduced to the caregivers? How would you like to handle something like that?
  13. What is your policy on parents visiting during the day? (It should be that you are welcome to come/call anytime, some parents eat lunch with their kids or stop by at lunch to BF, etc.)
  14. Do you have a registration fee? How much? Is it yearly or one-time? (All daycares I talked to had a yearly fee, most give you a discount for multiple children)
  15. How flexible is my start date in case I decide to return to work earlier or later than planned? (Most are willing to be pretty flexible, I told them 16 weeks, but she was fine with me bringing her in a month or two earlier or later if I changed my mind)
  16. Do you offer any discounts for siblings? (good for future planning, mine gives 10% normally on the oldest)
  17. What is your procedure when a child is injured?
  18. Separate outdoor play area for toddlers? (They should have at least two play areas IMO if they have infant-school aged kids)
  19. What is your discipline policy (broken down by age if they don't break it down)?
  20. How are food allergies accommodated?
  21. What is your security policy? (IE how do they handle drop off/pick up, how are the doors secured, etc. Mine has a number pad to get in and main entrance is the only one that you can get in from outside, they will not let your child go home with someone that is not preapproved and if they don't recognize you (even a parent that rarely picks up/drops off) they will check your ID, etc.)
  22. What ways are parents involved in the daycare already? What ways would you like to see them become more involved?
  23. Do you have any words of wisdom/advice for new parents? (This is a great open ended question that can give you a feel for their parenting philosophy without asking directly)

Another thing is to go on a thorough tour and watch and listen to everything. Remember, they should be on their best behavior for a tour, so just see how things are handled, how the rooms are set up (good for playing, things at the kids eye level, requirements for adults to remove shoes in infant rooms, things setup so the caregivers can easily see the room when changing diapers/making bottles/etc.) See if the rooms are small or large, if they have an indoor play area, etc.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you SO much!
post #4 of 10
Sure, sorry if it was a little much, but I figured I would include it all!
post #5 of 10

I interviewed about a zillion providers when my first 2 children went to day care. Then, I opened my own childcare business for 5 years. In my humble opinion, I think your gut feeling is the most important thing of all. As you're asking questions, just keep looking around. Don't dismiss weird stuff that doesn't sit quite right with you. I had such a hard time when I was interviewing providers. There are a whole lot of people out there that just don't parent like I do and it was painful to imagine my baby/child going there. Just for a couple quick examples, once out of the corner of my eye I saw an elderly woman who worked at the day care, slap a toddler's belly because she was lifting her shirt up all the way. She said "don't show everybody that!" and gave her the slap. I also witnessed the owner of one day care practically dragging a toddler that was brand new to walking over to the lunch table. I didn't see one little toddler being held there, they were all drug around by the hand.

 

And the very worst one of all was a childcare provider who wanted to introduce my 11 month old to the 11 month old boy she already cared for. The 11 mo old was sound asleep in a playpen. Against my protesting, she went over there and yelled into that sleeping boy's ear "Bye Steven! Goodbye! You'd better wake up or we'll leave you! BYE!!" just to force him to wake up and meet my toddler. I practically ran out of that place. ~shudder~

 

I think you just have to keep an eye (& "gut" ) out for providers that really seem connected to their children- carrying the babies/toddlers, giving them all eye contact, speaking to them kindly instead of harsh and demanding, smiling a whole heck of a lot, responding every time a baby cries, not leaving anyone sitting around strapped into their car seats all morning (ugh, I saw that so commonly as well). Personally, I found providers that wore large amounts of makeup and jewelry a little off putting, but women in jeans and silly t'shirts so much more comfortable. Another personal thought of mine is that, when I would ask a provider why she decided to become a childcare provider (a very important question! ;) ), the answer "so I could be home with my kids" never sat quite right with me. Something more along the lines of "because I really enjoy children" or "being surrounded by all these goofy kids is so much more entertaining than sitting in an office!" with a nice big smile on her face is more my style. Someone who just "wants to be home with her kids" doesn't really give me the impression that she wants to be around my kid, y'know?

 

And of course you'll want to know if the childcare offers any sort of religious teachings so you'll know whether they're aligned with yours.

 

Hopefully, you will be able to find a provider that just really loves babies. I've always loved babies! I enjoyed carrying them around with me all day. I never had more than one young baby at a time and never used playpens at my home. I kept my business at full capacity those 5 years- eight children. I've been joking ever since that I've been just creating my own permanent childcare- I'm on baby #7 now. orngtongue.gif

 

This is entirely a matter of opinion for everybody, but I always preferred home based childcares as opposed to centers. I liked the homey feel and that they were usually much smaller groups of children than the centers. I liked that I could get to know all the other children there and the provider herself much better. In the centers, there were (in my experience) more people working there than I could keep track of. And I wouldn't even be introduced to each one. That made me uncomfortable- there's no way to get a gut feeling about someone you never even get to hang out with!

 

Anyway, I wish you much luck! It is no easy matter deciding who will be best to take care of your most precious treasure everyday! Trust your gut! winky.gif

post #6 of 10
One of the biggest difference for me home vs commercial was the television. If it's on my boy is glued. He was in a home care where he would strain over a baby gate and around the corner to get a not very good view. I liked the home feel but finding homes without Tvs on around here was ridiculous.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmerMomma View Post

One of the biggest difference for me home vs commercial was the television. If it's on my boy is glued. He was in a home care where he would strain over a baby gate and around the corner to get a not very good view. I liked the home feel but finding homes without Tvs on around here was ridiculous.

 

 

Ooooh, that is such a good point. I'd greatly prefer a provider that didn't have a TV, or at least any channels (I owned a TV but never had cable. We watched a Disney movie each Thursday, otherwise the TV was never on). I have always despised TV.

 

I can actually see that issue alone being a deciding factor for me, personally. If there wasn't a home available that did not have TV, I might choose a center as well.

 

Blah. I hate TV. Did I mention that? greensad.gif

post #8 of 10
Definitely don't ignore your gut! It is so important and honestly a lot of the questions are just to get a feel for the provider, most providers know the "right" answer to most of them. And yeah, observation is so, so important. And yes, center vs. home care is such a personal thing, so make sure you think about what will be best for you! I much prefer a center for our situation, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each and good and bad providers for each too!
post #9 of 10

If you have any stipulations about CIO, screen-time, cloth diapers or breast milk, you'd better start that conversation.  The problem with infant care is that your child can't tell you if they were left to CIO at nap, or set in front of the TV for a few hours.  You can try to use the provider's answer as a clue, however.  Many people will tell you what they think you want to hear, but they may reveal part of what they actually plan to do by accident.  We visited one place where the provider told us outright when/where TV watching occurred (not interested), and she said cloth was ok, but she didn't seem to like the idea very much.  It just made us uncomfortable, and we chose something else.  

 

Also, we've used both licensed and non-licensed in-home care.  There are great people who are not licensed, but I would pay attention to the person's ads (craig's list or web page), their credentials/resume, philosophy etc.  There are some people out there who just aren't very organized, and who lack a basic level of professionalism.  The amount of effort that someone puts into promoting and maintaining their business can be a major clue as to the type of care they provide.

post #10 of 10

LOTS of good feedback above!  

 

A few more thoughts:

 

We use cloth diapers, so that was a question we had.  The in-home daycare we used at first was cool with it, the center we used around 12 mos of age was not.  That was an added expense for us, having to buy disposable diapers till DS was potty trained.

 

Ask if you can observe a classroom, and for the future what the visitation/parent-involvement policy is.  We are free to drop in anytime and I could even visit to nurse my son if I wanted, which made me feel comfortable and welcome.  If you are able to observe, pay particular attention to how you feel about the care you witness.  Are employees handling even difficult situations with grace and poise, teaching by modeling respect and tenderness?

 

How will they communicate with you?  We had daily notes till DS was three, and we also have quarterly parent-teacher conferences.  In addition, we're always free to call or drop in to talk to the teachers.  It really helped us stay on the same page when it came to difficult periods like potty training. 

 

The food.  Our daycare provides food (breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack) but it wasn't up to our standards, so we were allowed to pack DS' food for him.  If we hadn't been, that would have been a deal-breaker for me.

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