Choosing day care - questions to ask

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from KT75. Show KT75's posts

    Re: Questions to ask

    DD is starting at an in home daycare next wekk and these were the types of questions that I asked - I'm not sure if they would be different for a center envirorment.

    Child to teacher ratio, daily schedule/routine, will they follow my schedule (feeding & napping), how much tv is watched, vacation policy, sick policy, references, certifications, any felixiblity in the schedule (can I go from 4 to five days a week) - I think that there were more questions but I can't think of them off the top of my head.  Good luck!
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Questions to ask

    I direct a childcare center, so here are the questions I hope I'm answering and being asked:

    ratios and group size in the infant room, but also in the other age groups

    what are your hours, what is your policy on scheduling flexiblity, how many days are you closed each year, and when are they?

    tuition now and when does that increase (yearly, when?) and what percentage did it increase this year, what is anticipated for next year?

    what do you provide and what does the center provide? (diapers, wipes, baby food, crib sheets, toys, pacifiers, food, baby cereals, snacks, meals, etc.)

    what types of activities do the teachers do with the children - another way to ask this is to ask what will my baby do all day?

    where will the baby sleep, does each child have their own crib (and the answer better be a resounding YES!) - you don't want babies sleeping in swings, on the floor, or moved from crib to crib throughout the day.

    how often are the cribs and sheets washed, who provides the sheets and washes them?

    look around the classroom: are the cribs, bottles, cubbies, pacifiers, food, diaper wipe boxes, etc. etc. all labeled? that is, does it seem that everything is very organized so you could imagine that your child wouldn't be given someone else's bottle or pacifier by accident? are the cribs labeled so you feel that one crib is "your child's crib" and they don't play musical cribs (spreading germs as they move from crib to crib, yuck)

    how many teachers are there in the room where my child would be, how long have they been there, what is the turnover rate for the staff at the entire center as well as in the infant room(s). 

    what are the schedules for the teachers - do they have 2 or 3 teachers who work the full day or are there many floaters and 1/2 day peeople (if there are lots of 1/2 day staff then it's very possible you wouldn't be talking to someone at the end of the day who had been with the baby more than a few hours.

    how do the staff communicate with parents about the baby's day? how will we know what s/he ate, how much, when, when s/he slept, was changed, etc (you want to see that there are forms or notebooks or some system the staff completes each day to tell you about the child's day - it's very important that you know how much they drank all day, ate, whether and when they had wet or BM diapers, when and how much they slept, etc. )

    how do we as parents communicate to our teachers?  you may not drop off your child with your child's teachers - for ex: your child may be dropped off at 7:30am with 2 teachers who are from different rooms, and your child's first teacher might not arrive until 8am - so how will you communicate things to those teachers?  (you want to see they have a daily form for you to communicate to parents on, or a board to write on, a notebook to write in, something)

    look around, does it seem clean and neat? what is the policy and procedure for cleaning the classroom, toys, shelves, floor, carpet, etc?

    what is the procedure for diapering?

    do adults wash their hands when they enter the room (parents and faculty?  did you see the director wash her hands as she entered to give your tour?  do the parents do it for themselves and their baby? this is good hygiene practice - we bring so many germs into a center from outside, like from the car, metro, doors through the buildilng, etc...)

    what educational levels do the teachers have? are they cpr and first aid certified? how many, all or just the opening and closing teachers?

    listen to the Director, do you like her/him?  Do you trust her?  Do the teachers seem to like her, or at least do you get a good vibe when they are around the director or do they barely acknowledge her and seem to dislike her?  hard to gauge but sometimes not.

    do the teachers seem engaged with the children and infants?  obviously it's hard during a tour because teachers feel that they have to notice and pay attention to the parents on the tour, but I'd prefer to see them  greet the parents warmly but then go on back to caring for infants while the director/assistant director does the tour. 

    if you are there during a drop off/pick up with parent and child, how did it go? were the parents warm and greet the family, get information from the family about the baby's night and instructions for the day?  how did the pick up go, was family warmly greeted and the child helped to make a smooth transition to parents from childcare?

    what's the system for evacuation (you'll hear that 3 or 4 babies are put in each evacuation crib and they get driven out the door - so are there enough evac cribs?  are they labeled? are they easily moved or would they have to move a rocking chair, 10 toys and other junk to be able to evacuate the crib?

    what's the schedule of the day, do you follow a set schedule or my child's schedule (you want to hear that they follow the child's schedule, that all babies do not have snack at 9, sleep at 10, lunch at 12, nap 2-4pm, etc.... that's fine in toddler room, but not for infants who are all different ages and have very different schedules.

    what are the ages of the children in the infant room, and when do they move to the next room?  (are you comfortable with this?  one concern/criticism with childcare centers is that children often move from room to room fairly often throughout their careers in a center, with each move they have new teachers and have to develop an attachment to those new teachers....  and a loss of their previous teachers. combine this with high turnover at some centers, and your child could have 4 or 5 or 6 different teachers int he course of 2 years.  OR they could be in one room from newborn to 15 months with 2 stable teachers, then move to a toddler room from 15 to 30 months with 2 other teachers, then move on to preschool - so that by 5 years of age your child will have had only 6 or 7 teachers - much better, no? 

    how does the center help a child develop attachments with the teachers?  (not moving them from age group age group as often as other centers, or doing primary caregiving, or something to try to help children develop attachments, which is so important)

    what's your illness policy, is it posted and where?

    where's the license, (it should be posted) and is it current?

    do you have parties and opportunities for parents to get to know each other (if you care about that, for some parents this is a great way to get to know other parents and make friends - your children will be friends!)

    how do you keep the non-mobile infants protected from the crawling/walking babies?  (and did you see what they said really happening?)

    how often do the infants go outside, and how do they?  (playground, take walks, whatever)

    I think most of the above questions are good for family childcare, too, but I'd add these:

    do you have guns in the house?  if yes, where are they, are they locked, are they loaded or not?

    do you have pets in the house, what kind, where are they, etc.  (if you're very allergic to cats, you're going to have a hard time being in the house and snuggling baby who may have cat hair on blankets)

    do you have children of your own?  how many, ages, what kind of care are they in, how much are they home while the childcare is open/my child is here?

    how flexible are you with your hours, what are your hours, what is your policy on closing for snow, etc.

    when is your vacation, when do you close?  (I want to hear that a family childcare provider takes a vacation!  so many don't... I'd really want them to take 1 or 2 weeks off, tell everyone when they enroll, so you can either get backup for those 2 weeks or plan your vacation to coincide, depending on when she takes it.  But honestly to be closed for a week at Christmas/January and then another around July 4th isn't too much to give to a family childcare provider who works VERY hard caring for 6 children all day, every day..... for very long hours without any help....  I think a family childcare provider is a saint)

    Do you LIKE the provider?  You have to work very intimately with her, as she runs her own business.

    Honestly, I do not think there is one best type of childcare - you will choose what works best for your child, your family, etc.  Cost, convenience, comfort, safety, etc. will all go into making your decision.

    Good luck!
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from rhm327. Show rhm327's posts

    Re: Questions to ask

    CT - you are the best! I know we'll have to get to this part somewhat soon so I copied your post for when I need it. Btw, when do you see most parents-to-be visiting your center to find out more about it? I've been so focused on getting my BFP for so long I haven't given enough thought to this stuff. :) Btw, hope you and your DH are doing well!

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from amy-lynn. Show amy-lynn's posts

    Re: Questions to ask

    CT.DC covered most of the things I asked, plus several I never even thought about. I'd add a few more:
    What is the policy on paying when on vacation? (if we take two weeks off, we only pay for one week, but anything shorter and we pay even though DD is not there)
    Are there fees/penalties for late pickups? How late is late?
    If you want to breastfeed/provide pumped milk, what is the policy, how do you provide the milk, etc.
    Are there facilities to care for a sick child that is separate from the rest of the children? Usually you will come get a sick child, but since most people have to travel to get to daycare, you want to know that germs aren't being spread around too much.

    I got a bunch of information on interviewing childcare providers from my work (a large academic institution) I remember that it had a bunch of questions about child-rearing styles to confirm that you and the provider were in sync, but I don't remember the specifics. I might still have the question list at home if you really want to know specifics.

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Questions to ask

    "when do you see most parents-to-be visiting your center to find out more about it?"

    I work in DC, and down here the waitlists are incredibly long for a childcare center.  At our center, families are on the waitlist for our infant room for about 10-12 months... I kid you not.  So it's best to visit the centers when you are a few months pregnant - past the 12 week mark, but not much after that.

    I don't know what the waitlist is for infants in the Boston area - I'd go ahead and call some centers and find out.  But it's never too early to go on waitlists.... but there is too late.  Plus, you're going to want to visit several of each type of childcare (center vs. family childcare home) to decide which one you are comfortable with.  And also remember that the first one you see might be difficult because it's the first one and you won't have anything to use as comparison. 
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Questions to ask

    happy2bpg - how did you like the Kindercare?  Anything that surprised you? 
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from ModeratorJen. Show ModeratorJen's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    I found this discussion so valuable I'm making it sticky so others can easily find this incredible advice!

    ModeratorJen
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from clynn5683. Show clynn5683's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    I have THE BEST home daycare provider in West Newton.  I just recently went back to work, I couldn't afford $8 - $10 an hour for my son.  I stumbled upon her and thought it was too good to be true.  She is less than everybody else, has been doing it for 33 years and after day 1, I was completely at ease.  I feel like my son is getting the care and attention that I would be giving him.  Each day I get a journal of everything that has happened, she takes him outdoors, he participates in music and story time and he is only 12 weeks old!  I promise that I am a real person and not trying to solicite my own business or a business, I am just so happy with her I decided that I would let ya'll know because she has a couple of openings for toddlers.  Let me know if anybody wants the info.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from Red1977. Show Red1977's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    CT-DC: I'm late to the party, but this is an awesome list of questions.  Thanks so much for sharing your expertise.  We just visited a preschool toddler room for my son, who will be 16 months by the time he atteds in September.  Clearly, I failed to ask some very important questions!!  But I think if I had covered this, my one-hour meeting would have taken 4 hours!  How do parents go about getting all of these questions asked?  Several meetings with the director?  What I would really love is a trial period, but that's not the way preschools operate.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from LiveLoveLearnEnjoy. Show LiveLoveLearnEnjoy's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    The questions to ask are fantastic...thank you!  How long is a baby considered an infant and then a toddler?  I ask because I'm going to be home with my baby until he is almost a year old (he will be about 11 months when he starts daycare).  Would he still be in the infant room at that point??  Are there things I need to think about or be aware of?  I have no idea how to look for childcare and because I am going to be home so long I haven't thought about it yet but I know that I should.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from MM379. Show MM379's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    LLE, by daycare standards, DS is a toddler at 15 mos on the dot until something like 2.7 or 2.9 years I think.  At 11 months, your DS will still be an infant for a few months.  Some daycares keep them in one infant room through 15 mos.  Others have two infant rooms with a younger/older infant split or an infant room and a transitional "wobbler" or "waddler" room that is mixed older infant/young toddler and then move them into toddler room when developmentally appropriate. 
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    Ideally, many of these questions should be in the literature, pamphlet, or other info sheets the child care center director/family childcare home provides to you.  things like days closed, ratios in each room, ages of children in each room,  tuition (which will increase each year, ask when the next increase is due), illness policy, etc. 

    And a good director ought to be giving you a guided tour of the center, pointing out things s/he thinks are important, and showing you where things (illness policy, daily schedule, license) are posted in the center or classroom. That's the first tour, a general tour.

    Then if there is going to be space for your child, or as you get down to makinga  decision from an offer, ask to spend about 30 minutes in the classroom of each center you are considering.  During this time you'll get a sense of the classroom, how the teachers work together and with the children, what the "vibe" in the classroom is and of the center, and whether you think your child will be happy there.  I wouldn't bring your child necessarily, because then you'll be focusing on your child's behavior.  For example, do you have an incredibly shy child?  is either teacher fairly quiet, or are both so loud and overwhelming that you think they'll scare your shy child?  Or is your child very energetic and active?  Is that something encouraged and OK in the classroom, or do they keep asking the children to stop moving, sit down and work on something?  Pick out a child who seems to be like your child and see how the teachers work with the child, whether the child is having a positive and happy time. 

    Is the room neat?  Do they have enough toys?  I HATE to see a toddler room where all the toys are kept up high and the toddlers have to ask for a bucket of toys.  There shouldn't be so many that the room is a disaster area of overturned buckets of toys, and I know that toddlers dump toys (it's part of cause and effect, which they are very much working on), but there should always be a few boxes of toys/manipulatives from which to choose down on low shelves, then in the dramatic play/house area there should be enough pots/pans that the kids don't have to share, enough riding toys, enough trucks & cars, enough of whatever - if there is only one truck, one play telephone, beware!  there shall be arguing, fighting and struggling - because toddlers cannot share yet. 
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    JuneB26- what are your issues with having your baby bottle fed with breastmilk vs. formula? 

    And, yes, you should find out what their philosophy is, although I would HOPE to heck that all childcare centers have had experience with breastmilk bottles!  Perhaps there are a few family childcare providers who haven't, although now that so many women pump and use breastmilk in bottles, I'd be surprised that most don't. 

    Are you having issues that the center wants to dump breastmilk that the baby didn't drink at a bottle feeding?  and you'd prefer to have them keep that bottle for later?  Our center will allow a bottle to be put back in the fridge to be sent home for you to use later at home. While our pollicy is that all bottles are heated only once, fed in the one hour after being warmed, and then dumped afterwards, we will keep breastmilk bottles without dumping with a special form signed by parents.  Because I know breastmilk is hard to get, it's really like gold, and you HATE to see it dumped!

    I'd also suggest that you send more small bottles than a few 6-8 ounce bottles - that way the bsby can finish one 3 or 4 oz bottle in a single feeding and you have fewer issues with the wanting to dump it (or simply not being able to reheat and serve later - we simply won't do that given the possiblities of germs building and multiplying in reheated bottles, and our licensing won't allow it).

    Anyway, perhaps you could post your issue so that other parents could add that to their list?
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from soon2bmom. Show soon2bmom's posts

    Daycare - Center vs. In-home

    Hello, I am starting to look at daycare centers for my infant. I like a few of the daycare centers we have visited, but was hoping to get some suggestions for in-home care as well. We are in the Bedford / Burlington area (near the mall). Any suggestions would be very much appreciated! Thanks!
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from JKFDais15. Show JKFDais15's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    I would also love to hear about some daycares in the Bedford/Burlington area.  I saw a few of the schools/big daycares online - Goddard, Bright Horizons, A place to grow, and Inch by Inch.  I haven't decided if we want a big place like this or in a home.  I'm just starting the process of looking around. 
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from framerican51008. Show framerican51008's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    Wow I just read through this entirely for the first time.  Thank you SO much CT!!  I need to start my daycare search, well, 2 days ago and now I feel so much more prepared.


    One other question for in home daycares - Do they have a pool?
    I noticed some on the MA website w/pools and I wouldn't even consider them.  Call me paranoid, but there are plenty of others w/o pools, so I see no reason to take that risk.

     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    "One other question for in home daycares - Do they have a pool? I noticed some on the MA website w/pools and I wouldn't even consider them.  Call me paranoid, but there are plenty of others w/o pools, so I see no reason to take that risk."

    Totally hear you, Fram! All it takes is ONE SECOND that a chlid get into the swimming pool area from the play area... oh, god, I get sick thinking of it.  
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from erikaolson. Show erikaolson's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    I have also just started my search for daycare and thank everyone on th epost for the helpful information.  I am wondering if anyone has suggestions on daycares in the Dedham area.  I have gotten information from the facilities but would like to check out some home daycares and have not been able to get any recommendations on which ones I should look at.  Any help would be appreciated.
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from AlleBush. Show AlleBush's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    Has anyone had experience with the Little Sprouts providers? Specifically, the center in Roxbury?  
    Thanks.
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from Mickyblue. Show Mickyblue's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    Any feedback regarding Children of America day care in Holbrook,MA?
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Daycare - Center vs. In-home

    In Response to Daycare - Center vs. In-home:
    Hello, I am starting to look at daycare centers for my infant. I like a few of the daycare centers we have visited, but was hoping to get some suggestions for in-home care as well. We are in the Bedford / Burlington area (near the mall). Any suggestions would be very much appreciated! Thanks!
    Posted by soon2bmom

    Child Care Resource center has an online search tool that could help get you started. They are the child care referral agency for your area.You need to complete a short questionairre and they will try to match as closely as possible what you are looking for.

    http://www.ccrcinc.org/family.shtml
     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    In Response to Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask:
    I have THE BEST home daycare provider in West Newton.  I just recently went back to work, I couldn't afford $8 - $10 an hour for my son.  I stumbled upon her and thought it was too good to be true.  She is less than everybody else, has been doing it for 33 years and after day 1, I was completely at ease.  I feel like my son is getting the care and attention that I would be giving him.  Each day I get a journal of everything that has happened, she takes him outdoors, he participates in music and story time and he is only 12 weeks old!  I promise that I am a real person and not trying to solicite my own business or a business, I am just so happy with her I decided that I would let ya'll know because she has a couple of openings for toddlers.  Let me know if anybody wants the info.
    Posted by clynn5683


    Hi Clynn..that is great and you really lucked out. If you don't mind, could you forward me the info?
    Thanks...
     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    I would also add..in addition to all the great advice on choosing a day care provider..that you observe how the teachers are interacting with the children in their care, how are the children reacting to them. You should also visit the center several times both with and without your child to observe various transistion points throughout the day and the center should find out what the center's policy is on unannounced visits by you during the day ( and while you should not be disruptive to the flow of the day..you should ..especially at the beginning and with any staff changes..make a point to "stop in" occasionally). Find out what the policy on staff and cell phones is...and if you see staff on a cell phone while caring for children..take your child someplace else.
    Finally, before you place your child in any center, be sure to check on their license status and any complaint history with EEC.
     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    In Response to Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask:
    I have also just started my search for daycare and thank everyone on th epost for the helpful information.  I am wondering if anyone has suggestions on daycares in the Dedham area.  I have gotten information from the facilities but would like to check out some home daycares and have not been able to get any recommendations on which ones I should look at.  Any help would be appreciated.
    Posted by erikaolson

    Hi Erika..I just posted this link in response to another comment..but the same agency also does referrals in Dedham as well. Fill out the questionnaire and you will get a list of child care providers who have openings in your area..this gives you a starting point. Alternatively, you could do a search on the EEC website..but the referral sites such as Child Care Resource Center try to better match what you are looking for and narrow it down for you.

    http://www.ccrcinc.org/family.shtm
     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from siena09. Show siena09's posts

    Re: Choosing day care - questions to ask

    CTDC--just wanted to thank you for your comprehensive list of questions in this thread!  We visited our first day care last week and I printed out your list and brought it with me.  It really helped me feel prepared for the visit and that I got as much information as possible out of it.
     
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