It’s terrifying to leave your child with anyone. It’s even more terrifying for you to even think about leaving your child with a stranger. I was absolutely riddled with anxiety when I faced the reality of having to go back to work after my maternity leave with my first. She was a difficult baby and I felt guilty for anyone else who would have to deal with her, but that wasn’t even the biggest problem. She was MY difficult baby and I wanted to be at home with her. The pros and cons list I’d been creating for months suddenly had many pros for remaining home. I was able to continue my profession (I’m a registered early childhood educator) but from the comfort of my home. I was able to raise my daughter, and provide her with built in friends. It seemed win win to me. I could continue to be relevant in my field, while being able to see my family grow.
Prior to reaching this decision, I was faced with the task of looking for care. I humored my husband and visited private home daycares as well as licensed centers. Every licensed center I compared to the center where I had worked (none compared by the way) and every home daycare I found something wrong with it. This is when I compiled a list of questions to ask the providers to see just exactly how they ran things in their space.
Unlicensed Home Daycare
While searching for a daycare, I carefully left out the fact that I am an RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator). People tend to let their guard down if they feel like they can tell you what you want to hear. They will downplay things or say they’re relaxed on certain things if they’re trying to score your business, even if it’s technically against the law.
Licensed Home Daycare
It’s almost the best of both worlds. They’re regulated by an outside agency, which means they’re obligated to obtain certain standards and someone frequently visits to make sure these standards are met.
1. How long has your home daycare been operating?
It makes sense to get a feel for how long the provider has been in business. This shows their level of experience and success within the business.
2. Do you have any certifications, licenses or records of professional development?
This will demonstrate the level of education and professional experience they have in addition to their practical experience. Someone who holds a diploma or degree in a child care related field would have some academic advantages over someone who does not. They were professionally trained for the position. Professional development is the process of taking courses or workshops in order to keep relevant within the field and up to date. Ask for other certifications like first aid and CPR.
3. Why did you decide to open a home daycare?
This question is very telling. Too much hesitation and you’ve caught them off guard. A snappy response and you’ve caught a line. Most people opened them for secondary income or to be home with their own children.
4. How many children do you have in your care?
The law in Ontario states that a home daycare provider who is not licensed may have five children, three of them under the age of two. The provider’s children do not count in this ratio if they are school aged or older. Discovering how many children a provider has will show you how honest she is and if she has respect for the law.
5. What are your typical meals like?
Ideally you would want to see something from each of the food groups incorporated within the lunch. Many providers do fruit for dessert, and offer vegetables as a finger food. Request a sample menu for your review.
6. What does a typical day look like for you?
Knowing her schedule may allow you to synchronize your own and see if it would be a good fit for your family. This will also give the provider an opportunity to discuss their programming and routines.
7. How do you discipline?
Knowing their disciplinary methods essential to your decision making. Make sure you not only support their methods but that you are on board to potentially implement them at home as well.
8. Where do the children sleep?
If your child still has naps, it’s important to find out where the children sleep, and what sleep surfaces are provided. Most providers should have play pens, cots or mats for nap time.
9. Do you have a police record check?
No explanation necessary.
10. Do you go on field trips? How do you get there?
If the provider drives the children in her own vehicle, make sure she has the proper insurance and car seats to accommodate your child. Have a way to always get in touch with the provider in case of an emergency and always know where they are taking your child.
11. Are you a pet friendly home?
If they are, insist on meeting the pet and ensure their vaccinations are up to date and their temperament is gentle.
12. Do you allow unvaccinated children within your home?
It’s important to know whether or not the children within the care of this provider are vaccinated.
13. Ask for a tour of the entire house as well as any outdoor spaces.
This way you can see exactly where your child will stay and experience their environment throughout the day while you are away.
14. Do you have any references?
It could be past employers, former clients, or current clients. Having references can make or break the home daycare. If many people have had issues with it or you’ve seen it advertised a lot, chances are it has a high turnover rate for clients and something is going on there. A good daycare provider will gladly provide you with references.
15. What are your hobbies?
This will give you a sense of what the person is like outside of daycare. What do they do for fun? It will give you a glimpse into their personal life to better understand them as a person not only a provider.
16. How does your integration work?
Integration is a term typically used to describe the process in which a child is exposed to their new environment. Some places do a gradual integration over a week, some over a few days and some over a few weeks. It allows you to help your child become used to their new routine.
17. What is the payment schedule like? What are your fees?
This will help you budget and iron out all things financial. Your provider needs to keep a record of your payments and issue you a tax receipt at the end of the year.
18. Do you take holidays or sick days? Are they paid or unpaid?
This is all up to the discretion of the provider. Some providers take holidays with pay, some without. Some take sick days, some don’t. Most are closed on statutory holidays and some are not. Ask in advance.
19. What are your hours of operation? Are there late fees?
A provider may charge late fees if you are late to pick up. It is their business, yes, but it is also their home. They have dinner to prepare, children to take to activities and downtime to enjoy. Be respectful of that.
20. Do you have a handbook?
Some providers will have compiled a handbook to show prospective clients to showcase what their daycare is all about. It should answer all the important questions, and contain a philosophy statement to truly highlight the goals the center wants to achieve.
If you have any other questions you believe to be of great importance, please leave them down below so I may include them in updates. Thanks for reading!