My child is 3 years old. I need to know what questions to ask to make sure my child is left in proper hands. I will be bring my child to a daycare center and want to feel that she is safe there. So basically I need to know where I can see a list of interview questions I can ask daycare provider candidates. - Ilona in Illinois
The childcare expert answers:
The first thing you will need to do is to call the centers you are interested in. These are either centers you found in your telephone book, heard about from friends, or were referred to by a local resource / referral center.First of all, congratulations on the fact that you are giving your day care choice a great deal of thought. As you have already decided that you will be taking your child to a day care center (as opposed to a family day care home), you have obviously answered some questions about your needs. Therefore, I will give you some information that will enable you to make an educated decision.
The telephone interview:
This will give you a sense of the center itself in the sense of child to provider ratio, friendliness of staff, willingness of staff to provide information, and licensing and accreditation.
The next step in this process is to visit the centers. You should do this at a time arranged by you with the day care center staff, when you can bring your partner or someone else you trust. This should be done during regular center hours so that you can watch the interaction the providers have with the children.
Things to watch for and questions to ask at this first visit are:
The requirements for your area can be found at http://nrc.uchsc.edu/states.html.
While you are there, be sure to speak with other parents during their pick up or drop off, even if you have to chase them out to the parking lot to get an honest answer. Their feelings may be tempered by something you aren't aware of, but they are the ones who've actually seen how it works, not just in theory. Then it is important to make an unannounced visit with your partner or friend, to see that things run the way they did on interview day.
Last of all, take your child to the center to introduce her to the staff and other children. Get a sense of how she responds to the surroundings. But most importantly: Trust your instincts. You are the parent who knows your child best. If you don't feel comfortable about the center, it won't work. Best of luck!
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