Finding Childcare: Questions to Ask

Once you've made the decision to have others watch your baby, finding the most reliable caregivers can be challenging. This checklist can help. Here are questions to ask when considering childcare options, whether at an outside childcare facility or by an in-home caregiver. If you are interviewing a family childcare provider, you can combine questions from both lists.

Outside Childcare Facility

  • Is the center licensed to provide childcare? If so, by whom?
  • Does the center accept infants?
  • How many providers actively care for the babies? (One for every three infants is ideal, even if state requirements allow more infants per provider.)
  • What is the staff turnover rate?
  • What is the training of the center director and staff in early childhood development, first aid, infant CPR and choking?
  • Is the center bright, attractive, clean, safe, big enough?
  • Are the babies separated from the older children? Does each baby have her own crib?
  • Are appropriate safety and prevention measures in place?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • Are many different types of learning experiences offered?
  • What types of discipline techniques do the providers use? (There should be no discipline used on infants.)
  • Is there "life" in the center or home? Do the providers seem to enjoy their jobs?
  • Are staffers friendly and warm toward the children?
  • Are babies held when fed? How often are they held and rocked?
  • Are babies regularly played with, cuddled, taken outdoors?
  • What is the staff's approach to soothing a crying baby?
  • How frequent are diaper changes?
  • Is the provider willing to take notes on a baby's daily schedule and activities?
  • Do parents participate? How?
  • Are parents encouraged, and able, to visit any time during the day?
  • Will the center store breast milk and feed it to your baby?
  • How well do the director and staff seem to communicate? Do your communication styles mesh?
  • How does your baby respond to the caregivers?


Policies and Procedures

  • What hours and days is care offered?
  • Are emergency numbers posted?
  • What is the first-aid protocol?
  • What are the rules regarding the handling of child illness?
  • How does the center handle giving medications?
  • Is a form required to authorize medical services?
  • What type of backup care can be arranged in case of provider or child illness?


Costs

  • What is the base charge? Is there an additional charge for overtime or late pickup?
  • Must you pay when the child is absent?


In-Home Caregiver

  • What is the person's previous experience? Does she have any certificates from the Red Cross or a local hospital's safe-sitter course? Is she certified in infant CPR and choking?
  • Is she in good health? What are her dietary habits? Does she smoke? Has she had a TB test/lung X-ray within the last year?
  • Is she warm and friendly with the baby? (Watch her feed, bathe, diaper and play with him.)
  • What is her approach to soothing a crying baby?
  • How does the baby react to her?
  • Can she provide her own transportation?
  • Are you able to communicate well with her?

 

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