7 Questions To Ask Staff When Selecting A Child Care Provider

May 25, 2015
It can be difficult to finally sit down and figure out who you want to look after your child(ren) as you prepare to go back to work, or if you work from home. The following are a few questions to ask beyond the typical question of how much it will cost. Finding the right child care provider for your child can seem like a daunting task, especially for new parents. Ask these questions -- and any others you may think of -- and take some time to really reflect on the answers before you dive in just because you desperately need to find something.

1. Is it licensed? There are many benefits to attending a day home or early learning centre that is licensed. The first is that it is given it's license by the government so there are certain standards that are set and must be achieved. Day homes and early learning centres are regularly visited by people that uphold the standards set forth by the government and their license can be revoked if the standards are not met. Different governments have different standards and scales of rating so you may have to visit your government website to find out what they are. Another benefit is that if you do not have the means to pay for the care entirely by yourself -- as a single parent, or low income parent -- you can get a portion of your childcare subsidized. This is not something that is available in an unlicensed day home or early learning centre.

2. Is there regular programming? Do the children sit in front of the television all day, or is there a set schedule of play time and activities for them to take part in. Different day homes and centres may have different approaches that they may follow. Some might take the Montessori method, while others follow Reggio Emilia, or have a Play-Based learning program. Do the research and select a child care provider that uses the approach that you most want your child to take part in.

3. Do they have field trips? Do the children have the opportunity to leave the day home or early learning centre to explore the world around them. It could be a simple trip to the spray park to play and have a picnic, or to make a trip to the children's museum or art gallery. If it is important to you that your child get out and explore the world around them, make sure that they attend a day home or centre that doesn't stay in their building all day.

4. What kind of meals do they provide? Everyone wants their child to eat healthy -- even if we don't always to a good job of it ourselves. So make sure to find out if they are eating macaroni and cheese every day, or if they are getting a variety of foods and all four food groups are being covered.

5. What kind of education does the staff have? A lot of early learning centres are required to have a certain number of staff that have their Early Childhood Education Diploma -- this goes back to licensing. Early Childhood Education is important because it teaches the people that will be working with your children how to implement the regular programming, follow licensing procedures, ensure the children are eating healthy and well-balanced meals, as well as many other important subjects. Find out how many staff at the early learning centre you are looking actually have their Early Childhood Education, and be wary if it's less than two or three -- depending on the size of the centre, it may be less or more. If you are looking at taking your child to a day home there are plenty of people who have decided to open their own home after graduating from the ECE program, or that have taken other child-related education -- there are also plenty of day homes that are owned by caring people that do not have the education, but still have a well run place.

6. Do they have a parent handbook? What kind of information do they have available to parents that are just starting at the day home or early learning centre? They should be providing you with a package of information that includes a contract, permission forms for sunscreen/bug spray and field trips, information that relates to licensing, etc. A well written parent handbook should provide you will all of the necessary information you should need to know while your child is attending the day home or early learning centre. Again, this goes back to regulations in licensing, but if you are looking at an unlicensed day home or child care centre at least find one that requires you to sign a well-written contract.

7. What is the policy for when your child gets sick or hurt? Find out what the expectations are of staff if your child comes down with a fever. What temperature and symptoms do they need to have in order for them to be sent home? Obviously if they have a cough and some sniffles they will not be expected to go home, but find out for sure what the policy is. The same goes for if your child gets hurt. Some centres write the information down on a minor injury report so that parents can find out what happened to their child and why he/she might have a bruise or a scratch on him/her. It would not be expected that you take your child home, but there might be an injury where they might call you to inform you that something a little more serious has happened. It's a good idea to ask what they might do an any situation. This also goes back to licensing, and it is highly recommend that you ask this question if considering an unlicensed child care provider.

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