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Evaluating your Childcare Options

You've decided what type of care you want. How do you find the best?

by MaryP  |  5565 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

For Daycare/Preschools:
  • What are the staff-to-child ratios?
  • What is the rate of staff turnover? It's a particular issue for large centers.
  • Do the kids go off the premises at all? How often?
  • Do they mix the age-groups? Some places this is prohibited by law, but many parents believe it's good for the children to interact with children of varying ages.
  • Is there a curriculum?
  • Is there a contract? If so, take a copy home.

(I will take for granted that you will check that the environment and equipment are clean and safe.)

For hiring a Nanny:

Of the various daycare options, nannies have probably been the most widely discussed here at Work It, Mom! There are tips for figuring out how to interview a nanny and suggestions for interview questions and conversation topics, and a recent Q&A on what Work It, Mom! members decided to ask when they interviewed their candidates.

If you're hiring an independent nanny, be sure to ask:
  • Why did she leave her last placement?
  • What does she love about her job?
  • What's something she doesn't like about it?
  • If you're considering nanny-sharing, is she open to that? Has she ever done it before?

If you're going through an agency, ask all of the above, plus:

  • Does agency provide back-up in case of nanny illness?
  • What happens if nanny quits?
  • Do they provide a nanny-to-client contract, or do you contract only with the agency? (Either way, read it through!)

And, when all your questions have been asked and you've collated all your answers, you'll probably go with your gut. You'll take into account the feeling you had about the childcare provider, the feeling that the environment gave you. Was the environment and/or the people warm, nurturing, welcoming? Whatever your choice, your child will almost certainly thrive; if he/she doesn't, or if, in time, you feel a different kind of care is required for their changing needs, you can always revisit your decision.

About the Author

Mother of three (teens), step-mother of five (teens), home daycare operator of five (todders), and STILL SANE!! NOTHING is impossible...

Read more by MaryP

4 comments so far...

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    Flag as inappropriate Posted by ndks eihds on 17th June 2011

  • I discovered a cool daycare search website not too long ago. The website is

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mommar on 14th May 2011

  • Mary, you are so very awesome. In my mind you are the standard against which all in-home care providers are judged.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by anastasiav on 6th May 2008

  • I'm nowhere near this stage yet, but I absolutely love your questions. I used to work in a preschool, and then worked in a smaller daycare setting. I think this is a very exhaustive list. Perfect!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 30th April 2008