Here’s What to Ask on a Daycare Tour
So, you’ve decided that daycare is the best care option for your family. Congrats! Now it’s time to visit several local options (it’s recommended that you compare up to three childcare centers), spend time observing the daily goings on, and ask lots and lots of questions! To help make the most out of your impending tours, here are 50 questions to make sure you ask.
The Top 10 Questions You Must Ask on a Daycare Tour
Choosing the right daycare program for your precious little one is incredibly important…and it can be quite difficult, too! To guide your decision, it’s key to ask:
1. Is the program licensed? Then ask to see the license. If not licensed, check your state’s licensing regulations to make sure the program isn’t required to carry a license.
2. What’s the child-to-caregiver ratio? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that daycares have no more than three infants under 12 months old per adult (max six babies); the ratio moves to 4:1 for tots ages 13 to 35 months (max eight children).
3. Have all the adults working at the daycare undergone state and national background checks, including fingerprinting?
4. Is there always someone present who’s been trained in pediatric first aid and CPR?
5. Is there a clear, written plan to follow if a child is injured, sick, or lost?
6. What’s the plan for responding to emergencies and disasters, including fires or flooding?
7. Are parental visits allowed and encouraged? If you’re not welcome to visit at any time (without calling ahead), you should consider a different daycare.
8. Are children always supervised…even when sleeping? (The correct answer is yes.)
9. Do you follow safe sleep practices? Safe sleep practices means, each baby has their own sleep space, they’re placed on their backs, on a firm sleep surface covered with a fitted sheet with no other items in the crib.
10. Is there a written discipline policy? You’ll want to know the daycare’s official stance on how behavioral concerns are handled. For example, does the policy clearly state that spanking is not allowed?
Health and Safety Questions to Ask on a Daycare Tour
As you tour daycares, look for signs that the areas where children spend time are clean, well-organized, and well-lit. In the time of COVID, it’s also essential to ask about how the staff keeps children safe and healthy. Here, more questions to ask:
11. Does the staff clean, or is there a dedicated janitor to keep the grounds safe and clean?
12. How often are high-touch surfaces, including toys, disinfected?
13. What are the masking and social distancing policies, if any?
14. Is handwashing (for children and staff) built into the day, like before eating and after using the bathroom?
15. What is your immunization policy for children and staff? Has the staff been vaccinated for COVID-19?
16. What’s the protocol of a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19? Are staff members regularly tested?
17. Does staff administer medicine? If so, how do they keep track and document medications so that my child is safe?
18. How do you handle food allergies or dietary restrictions?
19. Do you serve food? If so, does it meet nutritional standards?
20. Can I see where I can store my breastmilk or child’s food?
21. What does your security look like? Do you lock doors, require ID or sign-ins?
22. Do you practice lockdown, fire, or other safety drills with the children and staff?
Questions to Ask About Daycare Policies and Procedures
Make sure you fully understand the policies and procedures at each daycare you are touring. Consider asking:
23. What’s the tuition? Do you offer income-based tuition discounts or scholarships? Do you offer special deals like second sibling discounts or paying in advance?
24. Do I sign a monthly, seasonal, or yearly contract? Is there a deposit? If I break my contract, do I get my deposit back?
25. Do you provide a parent handbook?
26. How flexible is your attendance policy? For example, what happens when my family schedules a vacation? What if my child is sick and misses more than a week? What happens if we are late for pick-up?
27. What’s your policy when the facility closes due to inclement weather, emergencies, or holidays?
28. What am I responsible for bringing to daycare with my child? Do I pack food, extra clothes, anything else?
29. Is my child allowed to bring a beloved toy or special blanket? Do you have a secure space to store personal belongings? What is your policy if something goes missing?
30. If any of your policies change—including tuition rates—how much advance notice do parents receive?
31. Are there clear check-in and check-out procedures?
32. What is your stance on potty-training? Will the staff change my child's diapers? What about cloth diapers?
Questions to Ask About the Daycare’s Philosophy
Most daycares will have a written philosophy that acts as the guiding set of principles for educating and caring for children. Ask to see each potential daycare’s statement…and make sure that their stated values and beliefs align with yours. Think about asking these questions:
33. Do children have rest or nap times?
34. Is there a planned daily schedule? Does it include active and quiet play, group and individual learning activities, rest, and mealtimes?
35. Are there different areas for resting, quiet play, and active play?
36. What kinds of educational experiences will my child have?
37. What are some examples of activities my child will do?
38. What, when, and how many times will my child eat throughout the day?
39. What is the age range of kids who attend? Do you group children by age? If so, where does my child fit in?
40. Do you utilize TVs, computers, or any other types of electronics? If so, how often?
41. Is there a safe space for outdoor play? And how often are the children taken outside?
42. How does the daycare staff keep parents up to date on how their child is doing?
Questions to Ask About Daycare Staffing
43. Do you have a shadowing program for early childhood education students? Will those students work with my child?
44. Has the director worked in childcare for at least two years?
45. Are the director and staff involved in ongoing training or continuing education programs?
46. What is your turnover rate?
47. Do you allow staffers to take smoke breaks? If so, what measures do you take to prevent children from experiencing second-hand smoke exposure?
48. Is your staff trained to work with children who have developmental, behavioral, or other types of delays and diagnoses?
49. If a child requires special accommodations, can you provide them? Are you willing to work with families to meet the child's needs?
50. Once you are satisfied with the answers you get, ask one more: Can you have a short list of current parents you can contact for references? Then, it all comes down to your gut instincts!
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.