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Daycare tour/interview questions...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi mamas!

My dd is 6 months old now, and I'm starting to look at daycare options for when my dh starts grad school and I go back to work this fall (she'll be 10-11 months).

I'm going to tour the student daycare on campus next week (which offers awesome flexibility- we're trying to juggle to minimize the amount of time that we need in daycare so that we can cover most times ourselves). Can you direct me towards resources for questions I should ask, things I should look for, etc??

I'm totally new at this and rather intimidated right now

post #2 of 8
Oh how I remember the task of finding daycare!! I started when I was about 6 months pregnant and must have called a zillion places and visited a ton of them!

This site has some general stuff to check for. There are lots of resources out there for finding a daycare. Your state Health & Human Services Department may have resources for licensed daycares (check their website) if the student daycare doesn't work out. I would guess that the student daycare isn't as sophisticated and progressive as others and may not be a "learning type" environment (but I could be wrong). And that may not be a key thing for you either. I know for me it was important that the daycare was encouraging her development and learning as she got older. My dd's center actually does assessments and has parent/teacher meetings once a year. And she attends a non-profit center that is funded with private donations, United Way grants, and other sources of funding.

Anyway...an important thing ask about is turnover. It may be run by other grad students in which case your child will become attached only to have that caregiver leave. That is an important thing to consider as consistent caregivers are important to a child, especially to a baby who is going to need to learn to trust a new caregiver...as will you.

Sounds like flexibility is important which may translate into cost savings. At most centers, flexibility is somewhat limited because they would have to find another child to fill in your gaps (to maximize profit). You may find an in-home center more adaptable.

Where ever you go, you want to ask about their discipline philosophy and figure out if that meshes well with your beliefs. Go with your gut feeling when you tour places. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right for you. Good luck!

You may want to post on the Finding Your Tribe section and ask others in your area about recommendations.
post #3 of 8
Originally Posted by Glover_Girls
I would guess that the student daycare isn't as sophisticated and progressive as others and may not be a "learning type" environment (but I could be wrong).
As a general rule, that's not true. I've found in several areas that the centers with the best reputation regarding the curriculum and daily activities are the campus daycares.

Given that it is a campus daycare, I would ask about how staffing is done. You may have student interns come through in addition to permanent staff.

With regards to questions, make sure you talk to the teachers themselves (not just the director) and you may also want to spend some time looking at the rooms for the next level up in age group. See if you can get the names of some other parents with similar situations/schedules to talk to about the center.
post #4 of 8
Here are some of my specific questions:
What is their daily schedule?
How often are diaper changes?
Where do they take naps?
How do they deal with a kid who doesn't want to nap? What do they do for a kid that needs more help falling asleep?
Do they do any form of CIO?
What is the playroom like? Lots of toys and books?
Can I visit whenever I want?
Can I have references of other parents that use the day care?
For center care, what is turnover like?
How do you handle discipline?
How do food and snacks work?
What is their sick policy?
Any TV watching?
Late policy?
Can we use cloth diapers?
What is a typical day time like?
Do you hold the kids a lot?
Do you have a specific methodology (Waldorf, Montessori, etc)?

I'm looking for daycare too right now--haven't decided on a place. I'm looking at licensed home daycares (1-12 kids) and not center care. Good luck!
post #5 of 8
I'd recommend once you think you've found a place spending a day or half a day in there observing the room and the staff. I work downstairs from a daycare chain and I think that the way the staff talks to the older kids is awful. Spending some time in the center will give you a better idea of what goes on than just the initial interview.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much, mamas!

Part of my challenge that I didn't mention in my original post is that we're moving from Canada to Oregon...so I only have a couple of scouting days right now. And all of the research I did in to daycares here has been for naught

Your questions and suggestions are terrific! I guess I need to really use the time I have there to get a good "gut" sense of the place, plus to ask some good questions to determine any potential problems. The director was great on the phone, and the lead teacher was busy when I called and told me that she could only arrange an appointment for a tour/classroom time and would have to answer further questions then (made me feel good that she was prioritizing care of the kids over talking to me on the phone ).

Thanks again!
post #7 of 8
We didn't have much time to find a daycare, so we only had a few spur-of-the-moment questions. Here's what we asked:

- Do you allow cloth diapers? How do you hande them?
- Do all your caregivers understand the proper care of the intact penis?
- How often are diapers changed?
- What do you do if a baby won't nap in a crib?
- Do you have somewhere I can sit to nurse?
- What do you do if a baby's crying?
- Are your caregivers familiar with basic baby signs?
- What happens if my child gets sick at daycare?
- What are your requirements for vaccines?
- What kind of activities do the children do during the day?
- What kind of rates do you have? Do you charge a bed fee when my child is not there?

We were lucky to find a great daycare that DS loves. They let me use cloth, always cuddle a crying baby, don't require vaccines, do lots of activities, go outdoors every day, and don't charge me when DS isn't there. We got VERY lucky.
post #8 of 8
Ask how they screen workers; i.e. whether or not they do background checks.

There was a story in the paper here recently about a mother who put her dc in daycare. She got along very well with one of the new workers at the center and they made an agreement that the woman would become her fulltime nanny. The woman ended up hitting her 3 month old in the head with a telephone The mother had assumed that the woman was reliable because she had been through the hiring process at the daycare center, but it turned out that the center really didn't do much to screen applicants--meaning they could have staff with child abuse charges in their past, etc. and nobody would know about it.

So ask how they screen employees and make sure they are consistant with reference checks and other background checks.
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