We live busy lives. Whether it’s because of our jobs or other obligations, a lot of us need a little help looking after our kids during the day, even if only a few times during the week. Daycares, of course, exist precisely for this reason. They allow us to tackle our daily responsibilities while being sure that our little ones are safe and sound, being taken care of.
How daycares operate, however, is something that a lot of people, even parents-to-be, often take for granted. From incredibly long waiting lists to varying costs in pick-up and drop-off times, there are a lot of things that we might not even think to consider when deciding who to trust with our children. Whether your care provider is a traditional facility or an in-home provider, here are five things you should be asking about before deciding on where to drop your child off every day.
Especially with in-home providers, and even with traditional facilities, it’s important to make sure that your daycare is operating legally. Facilities are more likely than not to be licensed in order to be functioning at all, but since this is your baby you’re trusting them with, it’s a good idea to make sure.
There are other important license-related questions to bring up, as well. Ask about inspections, about any violations, and about the plans that the facility has to address these violations should they exist. It may seem like you’re berating the care provider with loads of questions, but this is important information that the provider should have on hand anyway. If they don’t have this information readily available, that can very much be a red flag to take into account.
Everything about cost
If you’re considering a specific facility or care provider, chances are, you already know the rates. However, there are plenty of other cost-related questions that are important to ask as well. For example, some daycares will charge more if you pick your child up after a certain time, even if it’s still during their hours of operation. Ask if the cost varies at all depending on how long your child will be there, or on the age of your child.
Consider, also, how payment works. Do you have to pay upfront, by card, by check, by cash? What about the contract? Is there a fee for parting ways with the daycare center early? What if you’re only pulling your child out temporarily?
Sick days and days off
This question varies plenty depending on whether your care provider will be in-home or will be a traditional facility, but the answers are incredibly valuable, nonetheless. Inevitably, your child is going to get sick, which means that they won’t be able to go into the daycare facility. Do you still have to pay for these days? Is there a certain number of days your child can miss before being pulled out of the facility?
On the other side of things, are there certain days during which the caregiving service will not be provided? These might be national holidays or personal vacation days in the case of an in-home provider. Do hours of operation change at any point for any reason? What events would cause the facility to close for the day? If school gets snowed out, does the daycare close for the day as well?
Chances are your child is going to be spending the majority of their day at daycare, or at least a good chunk of it. This means, of course, that they’re going to have to eat while there. What’s the food situation like with your provider?
Ask if your kid needs to have eaten breakfast before showing up or if breakfast will be provided. The same for the rest of the food—is lunch and are snacks provided, or do you need to pack some for your kid? What kinds of foods might they be serving? Are there any dietary restrictions that your child has to follow that the provider can’t follow?
As we discuss here, we each have our own parenting style and, naturally, we each have our own idea of discipline. Research tells us that certain parenting styles result in more successful and even happier children. Research also tells us that clashing parenting styles can be confusing for some children.
While your daycare provider is not your child’s parent, they will be inevitably taking part in raising your child, at least to some extent. It’s important, then, to ask about and consider the discipline philosophy taken at the daycare centers you’re considering. Being on the same page when it comes to discipline is fundamental, and if the daycare facility you’re considering takes a discipline stance that you’re not comfortable with, it might be a good idea to consider other facilities instead.