18 Questions You Should Ask Your Childcare Provider

As a parent, choosing a childcare center can be a daunting task. While parents are a child’s first teacher, childcare staff and personnel serve as first teachers as well. Parents should pay close attention to the quality of potential childcare centers.

Not all childcare centers are equal, so it is important for parents and caregivers to personally visit and observe potential childcare centers. Location and convenience are important factors, but they should not override the importance of quality.

There are a number of of helpful tips parents can use to find an appropriate fit for a childcare center. Different families will have different priorities, but the questions below should be considered by all parents.

Business Hours
  1. Do the center’s business hours fit a parent’s work schedule? What is the center’s policy on dropping off or picking up a child late?
  2. What are the center’s policies and hours for holidays?
Fees and Services
  1. Are there extra fees for services like day trips or holiday-oriented parties?
  2. If your child has special needs, how will the center accommodate them? Will this involve additional costs?
  1. What the educational and professional qualifications of the teachers, directors, and office personnel?
  2. Which teacher(s) will be specifically interacting with your child? Are they available to speak when you drop-off and pick up your child?
  3. What is the staff to child ratio? (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the maximum child-staff ratio for 13-35 month children is four to 1.)
  4. Is there a high staff turnover rate?
Communication and Feedback
  1. Is the staff open to questions and concerns from parents?
  2. Can parents foster relationships with childcare staff to allow discussion of potential child issues?
  3. Does the center provide a daily report to parents about daily activities, eating habits, and behavior?
Daily Schedule/Curriculum
  1. Is there a daily, structured routine?
  2. Are there times specifically dedicated to reading and literacy?
  3. Do the center’s policies seem to foster cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development?
Childcare Center Atmosphere
  1. Does the childcare center seem clean and sanitized? Is there a specific room dedicated to diaper changes? Is staff regularly washing their hands?
  2. Is the childcare center bright and pleasant?
  3. Is the childcare center appropriately safe for children?
  4. Do currently enrolled kids seem happy and playful? Are crying or upset children being attended by staff?

These are just a handful of tips that parents can use to help guide the decision-making process in choosing a proper childcare center. There are virtually unlimited resources that parents can access for additional tips, but here is a short list of other useful sources: