- 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.