Interviewing Daycare Providers and
The first thing you will need to do is to call
the centers you are interested in. These are either centers you found
in your telephone book, heard about from friends, or were referred to
by a local referral center.
Here are the questions
to ask over the phone:
Is the center licensed by the state?
How many children are being cared for at the
center at any given time?
How many providers are working at any given
What is the average length of time a provider
stays with the facility?
How long has the center been in business?
What are the ages of children in care?
What is the average length of time a child
stays at the facility?
What types of activities are provided?
Are meals provided?
Is the center a member of the USDA food
(This insures good nutrition and staff/child training in
If diapering and/or toilet training is an
issue for your child,
ask about the center's handling of this issue.
(Do they have separate room for changes? A method for
Is the center NAEYC approved? NAEYC is the National Association for the Education of
NAEYC is the largest American professional group for childcare
and others working with young children. The accreditation program
lengthy and thorough, and if the center you are looking into is
NAEYC's web page (www.naeyc.org) then the chance that they bother
their homework is good.
This will give you a sense of the center itself
in the sense of child to provider ratio, friendliness of staff,
willingness of staff to provide information, and licensing and
Visit the Centers
The next step in this process is to visit the
centers. You should do this at a time arranged by you with the day
care center staff, when you can bring your partner or someone else you
trust. This should be done during regular center hours so that you can
watch the interaction the providers have with the children.
Things to watch for and questions to ask
at this first visit are:
What is the general feeling of the center?
Are the care providers warm and enthusiastic?
What is the method of discipline?
If you have any special requests - how are
What are napping arrangements?
Is the center sanitary?
Are emergency numbers posted?
Are all staff required to be CPR/First Aid
What kind of regular training is required of
How is the payment scheduled structured? (in
Are parental visits welcomed? (If
the answer is "no", RUN.
Do not walk to the nearest exit.)
Are fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in
Are indoor and outdoor play areas safe and
Are references available?
While you are there, be sure to speak with other
parents during their pick up or drop off, even if you have to chase
them out to the parking lot to get an honest answer. Their feelings
may be tempered by something you aren't aware of, but they are the
ones who've actually seen how it works, not just in theory.
Then it is important to make an unannounced visit
with your partner or friend, to see that things run the way they did
on interview day. It may sound silly but just about anybody can get it
together for a 20 minute planned set up. Its very hard to
"fake" a perfect day unannounced.
Take your child to
Last of all, take your child to the center to
introduce her to the staff and other children. Get a sense of how she
responds to the surroundings.
Most importantly: Trust your instincts. You are
the parent. You know your child best. If you do not feel comfortable
about the center, it won't work. If everything goes well and you still
feel something's wrong, trust your instinct and leave. You
owe it to your child to do everything you can to protect them.