50 Questions to Ask a Childcare Provider
There are a lot of stressful elements to parenting – from birth until your little ones fly the nest. For me, one of the most stressful situations to date has been searching for the right daycare for my children. Between the lack of available spots and ensuring I feel comfortable leaving my children in their care, finding the perfect childcare provider has been a challenge to say the least. Since I would classify myself as an expert at researching, contacting, and touring childcare facilities at this point, I have pulled together a list of questions or items to note during your conversations with or tours of childcare centres.
- What are your hours of operations? What are the drop off and pick up times?
- Do you have any closures I should know about? Stat days? Winter/Summer break?
- What kind of openings do you have? Part time? Full Time?
- What approach to children’s education do you take (ex: Montessori, Reggio)?
- What programs do you offer (ex: Before and After school care, Preschool, Kindergarten, second languages)?
- What is your withdrawal policy? How much notice am I required to provide?
- Do you have a waitlist? How long is the current wait list?
- Do you have a list of items I need to provide with my child (ex: bedding, diapers, in door shoes)?
- How do you communicate with parents (ex: apps like ClassDojo)?
- What is your policy for illness?
- How long have you been licensed? Have you had any incidents/violations reported to the province or licensing agency?
- What are your fees? Do you offer a sibling discount?
- What is your registration fee?
- Do you have a late pick up fee?
- Do you qualify for the Government of Alberta Affordable Childcare Grants & Subsidies? (Research your specific location grant and subsidies available)
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- What qualifications do you require of your educators? Directors?
- What level of background checks are done? Are they performed on all employees of the centre?
- Are all educators first aid and CPR trained?
- What are the ratios of educators to children?
- Can you describe what a typical day is like at the centre?
- What are your nap routines?
- How often do the children play outside?
- What time are snacks and meals served?
- What are your routines around diaper changes/bathroom?
- How often are the children’s hand washed?
- How often is the bedding washed? Do you wash it here or does it come home to me to wash?
- How do you handle injuries?
- How do you handle allergies?
- Do you assist with potty training older children?
- Do the children have any screen time during the day?
- What holidays do you celebrate with the children?
- How do you handle conflict among children?
- How do you handle undesirable behaviour (ex: throwing, biting, pushing)?
- Is there a documentation procedure for incidents such as conflicts between children?
- Are you a nut (or other allergen) free facility?
- Do you provide meals or snacks? Do you provide alternative options (ex: vegetarian)?
- Are we allowed to bring in food from home for celebrations such as birthdays?
Asking the right questions gives you the best insight into how a childcare provider operates. Knowing what you can expect in the day-to-day routines of your child and having the practical knowledge of how the centre handles things like safety, sleep, and discipline helps you to choose a provider that best aligns with your values. The last piece of advice I have is to always trust your gut. Even if the provider has all the right answers to your questions, do not ignore your intuition.
It’s not easy choosing a daycare but arming yourself with the right knowledge will make the decision a little easier. Good Luck!
Click below for a printable copy of 50 Questions to Ask a Childcare Provider