Daycare Questions/Advice! — The Bump
October 2021 Moms

Daycare Questions/Advice!

Hi mamas, 

DH and I are going to start calling/ trying to tour some daycare centers next week. I’m thinking I’ll prefer a center over somebody’s home. 
I was wondering what type of questions I should ask, or any advice you may have re:picking one. 
I thought this thread could help other first time moms too 🥰 


Re: Daycare Questions/Advice!

  • I work at a daycare in the billing department. I would ask about policies like the following:

    How many hours are you allowed to attend? Do they charge extra hours if you go outside your time?

    Vacation policies. Our vacation policy is you have to be enrolled for 4 months to accure one week

    Any other fees that are charged during the year?

    Do they offer snacks and lunches?

    What does a typical day look like as they get older? 

    That's all I can think of right now. 
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  • @jtayl962 hit a bunch of great questions. I'm also jealous of the vacation accrual!

    Ask what the teacher to child ratio is for the different rooms. In OH I think the ratio for public daycares is 1:5 for infant then goes up from there for older aged rooms.

    My undergrad is in Early Childhood and Family Development and my one MA degree is in Child Development so I asked a lot about the curriculum and enrichment programs for later ages. How children are interacted with by staff. For example, we toured a place that had a lot of bouncers & exersaucers in the room which made me pause because I felt like those kids could be sitting in those for longer periods of time without social interaction. Ask about the schedule. How they communicate with families/parents throughout the day. Some places have daily "My Days" our daycare rolled out an app shortly after we started. Take note to how the staff is interacting with the kids in whatever rooms you see or walk by and then how the director or asst. director is interacting with both kids and any families you may see while there.

    We toured 5 or so places and ended up going with a place that I had done clinical hours at and then later worked at. We had to transfer to a different city location after Covid/being furloughed, but we really love our daycare center.

    Sorry this is so long!
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  • We prefer in home. Ratio in my state is only 2 under the age of 2 and 8 total kids. Meals are all homemade and our in home has never had a violation, ever, which is super hard to do. She has been great to work with regarding DDs dietary restrictions (she’s dairy free) and the communication is great! She’s 6 blocks from our house which is super convenient and my daughter loves it there. We already have our spot reserved for this babe when he arrives.
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  • Everyone already gave such great input. I am an expectant FTM so don’t have first hand advice ...but I did read somewhere else to ask the daycare staff working with the kids (not people giving the tours...the ones actually interacting with the kids) how long they’ve been working there. The longer their tenure means less turnover and would assume the daycare is a great place to work and the management/who runs the facility is liked and treats them great. But I realize this might not always work as a proper way to judge...for instance I live in a town with a university so some daycares employ students in early education programs for experience...but of course turnover would be high due to students graduating and moving on. So take it with a grain of salt but just wanted to share!
  • @gingermama46 our day cares uses an app called Tadpoles. This app have insta messaging for families, it sends out daily reports after each day and teachers can send pictures to parents. 

    Also ask:
    How can you pay? Our daycare let's family pay online or do automatic payments weekly or send check or money order. Most pay online.

    Do they bill monthly or biweekly? Our day care charges for the full month. We send the bill a month prior and ask for payment a month prior.
  • What is vacation accrual? Is that where you don't have to pay if your kid isn't there for whatever reason? I didn't think to ask about that.
  • @jtayl962 that's what ours does too. I think a different platform though. Was so nice getting those pictures especially first day back at work.

    @sienna221 retention is such a good question, I knew I was forgetting something!
  • I would ask about turnover. I would ask what their schedule normally is in the year for when kids move up/change classrooms. I would ask what their COVID policies are and if their staff are vaccinated. I would ask about ratios (but you can also just google that for your state -- here it's 1:3 for infants and toddlers, and no more than 2:6 in a class for infants and 3:9 in a class of toddlers). I would ask about time spent outdoors, every day, multiple times a day, hours, minutes (obviously can change depending on weather). I think everyone else has already listed my other Qs.

    And FWIW I've never heard of a daycare doing vacation accrual. 
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  • @noprobalo if you want to take off a week like at Christmas or a vacation, you can receive a vacation credit. If a family comes 5 days a week. They will be credited 1 week. They have to take 5 consecutive or whatever their schedule to receive credit. A family has to attend 4 months in order to receive a vacation. So if a family attend a full year they can receive up to 3 weeks vacation. The catch is our vacation start all over in September.
  • We needed a center because in-home hours aren't practical for us (we normally have e long communutes) and we don't have the flexibility to stay home with our child if the sole childcare provider was sick or on vacation. 

    I like to ask about their sick children policies - when would they send a child home? As well as their cleaning schedule. 

    Ask each teacher how long they have worked there - this will give you a better idea of staff turnover than asking the director/tour guide about it. 

    Ask about ability to accommodate allergies.  

    I'd also ask about behavior management for older kids, assuming you'll still be there when they are toddlers+. 
  • You guys are so great. Definitely making a list of all of these!! Thank you so much. If you think of anything else, I’d love to hear it. 😊😊
  • cait32cait32 member
    I think questions are great, but what sold me was being able to spend an hour in the infant classroom with the teacher and getting to know her. I was sold and actually put up with a center that had bad management because I loved the teacher so much (and she has since gone on to start her own center which I helped her do!). I toured with center directors and got lots of questions answered but always feeling like I didn't really know the place until that school let me just shadow in the classroom. It was huge.

    I also wouldn't rule out in-home. I know some folks who run amazing in home daycares and the kids get far more 1:1 time and they're often more affordable. We would have been open to that if I hadn't randomly found the place I did.

    I'd ask about their closures too. Because our center was affiliated with a school for older kids, they did take fall/spring break and Christmas break. This was fine for us because I have my parents nearby and we have fairly flexible work. But for some folks that would be a problem.
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  • We had our son in a center from 12 weeks old until almost 3yrs. Recently we switched him to an in home because of some issues we were running into at the center he was at. With that said I think there are so many pros and cons to both scenarios. I was pretty against in home because of concern of closures and lack of time flexibility but the in home we go to is run by two women so it has the flexibility we need for scheduling. I do no prefer the smaller size as well. The center was good overall and had a really great school curriculum whereas the in home isn’t as school structured. For questions I would ask the following.
    1. What’s the turnover 
    2. What qualifications do teachers need to work there (this was more center based)
    3. Do they provide anything (snacks,wipes, diapers)
    4. What is the process in moving up in classes and when does it happen
    5. How do they communicate updates from the day 

  • If you have a local moms Facebook group or something similar for your town, I would ask the community their thoughts about specific daycares you’re interested in. People do this a lot in my local group and it sounds like there are 2-3 where many people have had bad experiences... it’d be an easy way to weed out some choices. 
  • k_rn21k_rn21 member
    Not sure if this really fits into this category but I am currently an RN, however I do not plan on going back to this specific job or company after maternity leave for maaany reasons. Which got me thinking about possibly providing childcare from my home after this baby arrives for several years. Reason being, it would allow me to stay home with both children although my DD will be in kindergarten but also still providing my family with income and we have a lack of daycare options in my town. I love children obviously and I was hoping maybe if families knew I am a nurse and CPR certified it would also provide some peace of mind. Would any of you take those things into consideration and feel if it was your child you’d be more comfortable knowing that information or indifferent? My DD has been to several day care centers and I just wasn’t overly thrilled with any of them. 
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