What Questions Should I Ask a Childcare Provider?

It is important that you make the effort to find a childcare provider that will suit your needs and the needs of your child. Take the time to make a phone call to find basic information. This is your screening process. Write down the answers while you are talking to the person.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BY TELEPHONE 

  • Is the centre/home currently taking children?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • Are they aware of homes or centres with vacancies?
  • Where are they located?
  • Is the home or centre licensed?
  • Are there schools nearby? Where?
  • What are the basic fees?
  • Are there any extra charges? What are they?
  • Do they provide tax receipts?
  • What are the provider’s qualifications/education? Do they provide references?
  • What is the age range of children enrolled?
  • How many children are enrolled in the centre or home?

Check the answers you have been given. Do you feel comfortable with the answers? Only make an appointment to go to the facility if you are comfortable with the answers to the phone interview. Make sure the answers to all questions are included in the contract.

QUESTIONS TO ASK IN PERSON

Ask about the activities provided in a typical day or week.

  • What is the program for a typical day/week? Does it balance active and quiet play?

Ask to see all areas of the centre or home and the yard to which your child will have access.

  • Are they clean?
  • Are the toys and the play equipment (in-door and out-door) in good shape?

Ask to see how the provider prevents the children from going into areas in which they are not allowed.

  • Are the doors closed? Are they locked?
  • Do you see any safety problems?
    For example, dangling cords, uncovered electrical outlets. 
  • Check how medicines and poisonous substances are kept away from the children.

Take your child with you. Watch how s/he interacts with the provider and/or staff.

  • How does the provider and/or staff behave with and speak to your child?
  • What hours are they open?
  • What are the drop-off and pick up times?
  • Are there extra fees for dropping the child off early or picking him/her up late?
  • What are the rules about other people picking up the child from the centre or home?
  • What type of liability insurance has the provider purchased to cover the childcare home or centre?
  • What is the fee structure? Cost? How to pay? When to pay?
  • Payment during vacation (yours and theirs)?
  • Do you pay when your child is ill or absent? What is the policy regarding sick children?
  • How much notice does the parent have to give for the withdrawal of the child?
  • How much notice does the provider have to give the parent when asking for the child to be removed?
  • What type of parent involvement and responsibilities does the centre or home expect?
  • How do they communicate with parents with regards to changes in program, fees, activities, and other important information?
  • What are the lunch provisions? Are snacks provided?
  • What types of field trips and outings are provided? How are the children transported?
  • How do they make sure the children are safe (e.g. extra caregivers)?
  • Do they have a written policy and procedures manual to give to the parents?
  • What procedures are followed in the event of an emergency including fire safety?
  • Do they include practising with the children? What are the procedures for administering medicine to a child?