How To Choose A Childcare Provider

Finding a trusted childcare provider can be a stressful process no matter how experienced the parent. Our goal as parents is to ensure that our children are thriving, happy and healthy (sorry kids, fruit snacks are not fruit). We want the person caring for our children to love them as much as we do, but how can you be sure that you have found the best option?

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Getting Started

You have Googled “childcare near me” and your search brings pages of childcare recommendations. Within an instant, you are overwhelmed. Start with the most important questions:

  • What type of care setting do you prefer for your child?
  • What is your monthly budget for childcare expenses? 

Questions to Ask a Provider

Now that you have determined the type of care you want for your child and your budget, it will be easier to identify providers to interview. The best way to find the right provider is by asking the right questions. Here are some questions to consider:

Daycare

  • What is your staff-to-child ratio?
  • Are lunches and snacks healthy?
  • What if my child is sick? What is your policy regarding illness?
  • Do you allow children to attend if parents opt out from vaccinations?

Nanny

  • How long have you been caring for children? 
  • What is your favorite age to work with?
  • What is your educational/training background? 
  • What is your caregiving style? 

In-Home Childcare 

  • Are you licensed/certified/registered?
  • Do you have a structured activity time? Curriculum?
  • Do you have a back-up if you are sick or on vacation?
  • Do you smoke or have pets?

Questions for all providers: 

  • How are disciplinary and behavioral problems handled? 
  • Are you CPR/First Aid Certified? Are all staff certified (if looking at daycares)

Pro tip: In some states, the department of education/early learning website will have public information available regarding in-home and daycare providers. Information can include: licensed staff members, violation records, or reports of non-compliance to state licensing rules.

What’s the best choice?

Depending on your child’s age, one care model may work better than others. Here are some pros to consider: 

Newborn-Two years- At this stage, a Nanny can be the better choice as your child will have more 1:1 interaction with their caregiver. This is near impossible for daycares or in-home providers to replicate. 

Two to Five years - Daycare facilities and in-home providers are able to offer an environment that promotes socio-emotional growth and creates an opportunity for your child to interact with their peers.  

School-Aged- Let your child choose! Nannies are a great choice if you have other children at home, if you need someone available to drop off/pick-up from school, or to help with homework. Daycare and in-home care can be less expensive and offer reduced rates for before and after-school.  

Ultimately, no matter the provider, always trust your gut. If you feel facility staff or the person that you are interviewing seem ungenuine, run!

What type of childcare provider do you think will meet your child/children’s needs best?

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