Aug 19, 2008

Daycare advice

I was informed by one of my patients last week that if I needed daycare by next March, I better get my ass in gear. So I have set up 4 interviews with various area daycare centers for next Tuesday. I will start with centers before I look to any in-home daycares. I'm mostly doing this because I haven't received any recommendations for in-home daycare in the area with anyone who actually has openings. I have, however, heard good things about several centers.

I would appreciate advice from anyone with small children who has been using daycare in recent years. What kinds of questions do you think I should ask them? What did you look for? What do/did you like/dislike about your daycare? Any red flags I should look for? If you live in the Holland area, any facilities you like?

I will likely be using them three days/week. If I have to get on a waiting list for the place I like best, I'll consider doing that and interviewing local Hope college students to fill in as a short-term nanny. I probably wouldn't stick with a student long-term just because I need the reliability that they won't "call-in" sick.


Amber said...

Hey Ang-

I go to a lot of daycares for my job. A DEFINITE red flag to me is if they won't let the parents much beyond the office when you pick up your children. There are a lot of places that I go like that. The lobbies are gorgeously decorated, etc, but as far as the actual care of the kids...well, who is to say cuz they never let anyone in. I would definitely lean more on the places that have an open door policy. I also think it is important to meet your child's caregiver specifically. Some daycares have teachers that are great, others, not so great within the same daycare, so I'd check that out. you want them to bring your child outside, on field trips, etc. This probably wont be a big issue with an infant, just something to think about. Ask if they provide food, diapers, wipes, that sort of thing. I'll let you know if I think of anything else!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that a lot of centers will charge you for 5 days a week, even if you are only going to use 4 days. Why? Because they know that they could find someone to take your place that would use/pay for the full 5 days a week. Seems crazy, doesn't it? Something to check into anyway.


mamie said...

You may have me more than just one day! If things go the way they are going, I'd rather be able to take care of Charlotte Rose! At least 2 days of your 4.

Amy said...

Ask who their licensing supervisor is, (get a contact name) and when you narrow it down, give him/her a call. They can't tell you a ton over the phone, but get a copy of their licensing file from the state. You also want to ask about staff turn-over. If they have a HUGE turn-over, it could be a red-flag. (Not always, but it's one of many things to think about!) You also want her to be in a place with stable staffing so she doesn't feel uncomfortable when there are new faces every week.

Ask for references, of course, but honestly- a lot of it is your 'gut feeling' of the place. Good luck- it's such a tough (and important!) choice to make!

mamie said...

Are you sure you want to work 4 days? Some of these comments are making me nervous! I was fortunate to just stay at home. I realize how blessed we were.

Kim said...

Open door is a must--any time without calling first--they should LOVE the fact that you just stopped by.

Meet the actual infant room caregivers. Talk with them. See how you feel. Do they let the babies cry? How rigid is their "Baby Room Schedule" vs. honoring each baby's schedule? (ie. your daugher naps at 10-11 but their nap time is 9-10.)

Turn-over, have staff had full background checks and how often are they re-done (don't think I'm crazy)

Look at the set-up as the kids get older. 1-2s room? 3s and 4s? What's the preschool curriculum like? Do you and Brian WANT your kid reading letters at 3 or playing in the sandbox?

You could also put an ad in your church bulletin for an in-home sitter (if they do that at your church) or just go up to ladies at church and ask if they know a good day care.

Unfortunately, all of these great questions aside, it's probably going to come down to who will only charge you for a few days a week and not a full week. This should be your FIRST question over the phone to narrow places down. Many places don't charge for partial weeks--even in-home ladies.