After pre-selecting potential daycare providers, call them and do a quick screening / phone interview. Take this opportunity to confirm the information you already have about the service they provide and ask for additional details. We suggest that you write down all the information and observations you gather about each provider (you can do so on the back of each www.daycarebear.com listing you print), the goal being to be able to compare the selected providers and choose the one that suits you best. Here are a few things you should ask.
Admission conditions ?
Childcare providers (and especially daycare centers) can have specific admission conditions. You should ask right away if there are any and see if your child qualifies. Sometimes children can be required to live in a specific neighborhood, have up-to-date immunizations, be potty-trained, etc.
Number and age of children cared for ?
Children require a lot of supervision and the younger they are, the more attention they require. Usually, a single childcare provider can approximately care for a maximum of:
- 3 children under the age of 18 months;
- or 6 children between the ages of 18 months and 4 years;
- or 8 children aged 4 to 5 years;
- or 12 children who attend kindergarten or elementary school.
These numbers are only guidelines about the supervision children of different ages require and do not supercede state regulations limiting the number of children a provider can care for (depending if the provider is accredited or not, if it is a home or a private daycare, if helpers are available, if the provider's own children count, etc.).
If an individual cares for a mixed age group of children, you'll also need to adapt these guidelines.
Tip: Ask how many children there are in your child's age group and who will care for them.
Training and experience ?
Ask about the provider's training and experience. Daycare providers with a college education in a childcare related field are highly desirable but so are mothers with a lot of experience. Ideally, you'll want a childcare provider:
- who has successfully completed a first aid training course (this is a must);
- who is CPR certified;
- who knows SIDS prevention techniques (if your child is an infant).
You'll need to make sure that the childcare provider is a responsible person with the right training and/or experience relating to child supervision and development, health, nutrition, etc.
Tip: Ask to see or obtain a copy of the childcare provider's diplomas or certificates.
Confirm the opening hours and ask if there are any periods of the year during which the daycare center will be closed or during which the childcare provider will be away. Also ask if part-time childcare is available when necessary.
Tip: If you're thinking about a long term childcare solution, try, if possible, to find a provider that will be able to accommodate you and care for your child throughout preschool.
Confirm the price and terms as you'll want to know up front all the costs involved. Most providers will give you a daily rate but will offer a discount weekly or monthly rate. Additional discounts may also apply for a long-term contract. Be especially mindful of additional fees and expenses (admission fees, early drop-off fees, late pick-up fees, fees for extra meals, fees for an absence, etc.). Also inquire about the terms of payment (upfront? at the end of the week? ...). Finally, ask if the provider qualifies for government (state / city / county) programs so that you can obtain financial assistance to help you pay for the childcare costs if needed.
Make an appointment !
If you can easily obtain all the information you ask for and if the answers meet your expectations and needs, schedule an appointment to visit or meet with the childcare provider and to see first hand the environment in which you child will spend his/her time.
2007 © DaycareBear - Last update 22/02/2007
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