5 Key Questions to Ask Potential Child-Care Providers

5 Key Questions to Ask Potential Child-Care Providers

A Solo Mom shares what she looks for when choosing a day-care provider

The most important aspect of choosing a day-care provider is whether the provider is a good match for you and your child. Some families thrive with a large center, while others prefer an in-home setting with only a few children in the provider’s care. Either way, there are certain questions you should ask when visiting the provider.

  1. Ask about licensing. All day-care providers have to comply with state and local licensing requirements. Ask to see certification documents and the results of the licensing agencies’ last visit. While securing a license does not guarantee a provider will perform perfectly, it does show the provider is complying with basic regulations and there are no glaring issues.
  2. Ask about the adult-to-child ratio. You should only expect a one-to-one ratio between child and staff if your child is an infant under 12 months of age. For one-year-olds, the ideal ratio is 1:3; for two- and three-year-olds, it is 1:5; for three- and four-year-olds, it is 1:7; and for five-year-olds, it is 1:15.
  3. Ask about the facility’s philosophy on discipline. How do they respond when children who act out? Are their practices and philosophy in line with your beliefs?
  4. Ask about education. Does the center have a curriculum in place or follow a certain philosophy? Do they use an informal style of learning or conduct structured lessons?
  5. Ask if you can drop in when you choose. A provider should be open to random parent observations, with the possible exception of nap time.

After you’ve done your homework, go with your gut. If you aren’t comfortable with a provider or a facility, but can’t quite put your finger on why, don’t doubt yourself. Move on to the next licensed provider on your list; your instincts can be an important guide.

Photo Credit: By Airman 1st Class Hunter Brady [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Anne Spollen lives happily as a Solo Mom to three kids and works as an author, a writer, and a college teacher.

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