I’ve alluded to the fact that, for me, looking for and choosing childcare has been one of the more stressful aspects of pregnancy and entering the World of Parenthood.
One of the biggest choices we’ve had to consider is an in-home caregiver vs a daycare center. This one keeps me up at night, honestly. Thankfully, one of my very close friends is a Director of a daycare center, and she coached me through the process of what to look for and what to ask when touring a facility.
I found her list of questions to be beyond helpful. I may have looked like a future helicopter parent with my mile-long list, but I was surprised that I didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. I left feeling assured and confident that all the bases were covered.
I know I have several pregnant friends and many pregnant blog readers, so with my friend’s permission, I wanted to post the list of questions that she gave me. [You’ll also notice that her explanations/comments are next to some questions in gray italics.] I hope that someone else in my situation finds them to be as helpful as I did!
Impressions/Things to Look For
How does the outside of the building appear?
Did you have to ring a doorbell or did you walk right in?
Was the person that greeted you friendly?
If you scheduled a tour, did they appear to know that you were coming?
Does the inside of the building look clean?
Do the classrooms look neat and organized, or messy and chaotic?
Is there colorful art on the walls?
Do the children appear happy?
Are the children clean? [i.e. Can you tell what they ate for lunch because they’re wearing it on their faces/in their hair?]
Do the playgrounds look safe?
Ask to see the entire facility! If you’re touring for an infant or a toddler, often times Managers will only show off the first couple of classrooms. Your child will (hopefully) transition into every classroom. The Kindergarten room is just as important at the nursery.
When you walk into the classrooms, do the teachers say hello?
Do the teachers appear friendly? I only add this in because just because someone says hello with a sour-puss look on their face doesn’t make them friendly.
What is the teacher turnover like?
How long has the teacher in your child’s classroom been there? I don’t put TOO much emphasis on this because lets be real, childcare is often known for their turnover, and is even more often out of the
hands of the Managers/school. However, it doesn’t look too good for the school when both the Lead teacher and Assistant teacher were hired last week.
How long have the Managers been there? I DO put a lot of emphasis on this. This job is fucking hard. There are days that I go into the bathroom to cry for ten minutes, tell myself that tomorrow is a new
day and to get it together, then go back to work for ANOTHER 8 hours. Anyone that is that puts up with the shit that we put up with for more than a year, is DEDICATED and invested in the school’s well-being.
How long has the facility been open?
Is your facility accredited?
Is your facility licensed by the state? ALL facilities that are licensed MUST have their most recent inspection posted for parents to see. It can generally be found on a “Parent Board” of some sort in the lobby or entrance. All licensing inspections for all licensed facilities can be found on the Department of Social Services website. This is a HUGE indicator if a facility is a tight ship or a bit loosey goosey when it comes to following the rules.
Is there an open-door policy/am I limited to how many hours per day my child can be here?
Are there cameras in all of the classrooms?
– If so, can you watch your child’s classroom from online?
How are the children signed in/out everyday?
Can we authorize family members to pick-up/How do you monitor who is permitted to pick up?
What is the illness policy?
How do you notify parents when there is illness in a classroom?
If my child ends up with allergies, or if we need medication to be administered throughout the day, who is trained to do so? Don’t be surprised if some facilities will not administer fever reducing medicines, like Tylenol or Advil. We do not. Medicines with acetaphetamine are often given to mask a fever when it’s quite likely that a child may be contagious with something else. This can be a frustration for some parents that we won’t give their child Tylenol when they’re teething. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to determine if that child has spiked a fever because they are contagious with an illness, or if they are indeed only teething. Because we don’t want to take the risk that a child is contaminating a classroom with something, if a child’s temp goes up above a 101, they will be sent home. It’s then unto that parent to either keep the child out until the fever drops, of if they take them to the doctor to get a note that says they are not sick.
What is the tuition?
Is tuition paid on a weekly or monthly basis?
Does the tuition include meals?
If still potty training, do we need to provide diapers and wipes?
Are there any additional fees throughout the year? Material/activity fees?
What forms of payment do you accept?
Is there a registration fee, and is it annual?
What is the process to enroll?
Is there a multiple child discount?
If we decided to withdrawal, what is the process?