“I’m going back from maternity leave and need childcare, a center is too expensive for my income, but home childcare worries me. How do I know if my child will be taken care of? What questions should I ask? Where can I go to find home childcare providers?”
Childcare is everywhere, however in most areas waiting lists to get in are long and hard to predict if you are getting in. You could spend weeks interviewing centers to may not get a call until it’s too late. Cost unfortunately is also a huge issue and can really put a dent in your finances. So many people decide that home childcare is a better option financially for them. Many question rise when it comes to home childcare, Is it legal? Is it safe? Are the fees tax deductible? How do I find the right home for my family?
There are many places that you can find home childcare, referrals from friends, Kijiji, Facebook, the list goes on. When you call make sure you go for an interview. You want to make sure that it is a clean, safe environment where your child has many opportunities to learn. Also go during business hours, this gives you the opportunity to see the provider interact with the children. Look around, is there art work on the walls? What about how many children are there. Is it bursting at seems with more than five children? if so this is not the place to go to. As I discussed in my last article “So you want to start a home daycare? Advice and the pros and cons of a home childcare business” There are limits to how many children a provider can have in their home.
Now for the interview, make sure you ask questions! I can not tell you how many times I have experienced parents during an interview not asking questions about my services. After all we are taking care of the most important piece of your life, ask questions! Over do it if you have to, but make sure you do. Here are some key questions to ask the provider during an interview:
1.) How many years of experience do you have working with children?
It may not be many years, however you can tell whether they have a true passion for working children with this question. If they seem uncomfortable or don’t know how to answer then this may be a red flag.
2.) Do you have a police clearance (criminal reference check)?
Hopefully, the answer is yes. Make sure that it is within the past two years, if they do not have one then request that they get one before enrolling your child.
3.) How many children do you have enrolled in your program? What are the ages?
You want to make sure that they have no more than 5 children enrolled, and that they a meeting the age ratios. for example, no more than 2 children under the age of 2.
4.) Do you have a set meal plan every week (menu)? Can I see it?
You want to make sure that your child is being fed according to the Canadian Food Guide. Also make sure that they are serving minimal processed foods. No Mac N Cheese!
5.) What Kind of activities will you be providing for my child?
If they have a posted program plan, great. If they don’t that is okay just make sure they plan on doing activities daily that will help your child’s development.
6.) Where do the children sleep?
Some places have a designated room for nap time, some use cots and playpens in the same room as they play. Both are good, however make sure they have enough beds, sheets, blankets, and that were they sleep is clean.
7.) Will anyone else be taking care of the children at any time?
Maybe the provider gets sick, will there be a person filling in or will they close for the day. If someone is filling in, they need a police clearance too. You should also meet them a couple of times before your child is left alone with them. The same goes for special visitors or volunteers.
8.) Do you have any parent and professional references?
References are important, with a phone call you can hear it in the persons tone of voice when asking questions about the provider if its a good place or not. Also see if you can get a previous supervisors reference, that way it’s not just the providers friends giving you good insight.
These questions can help get your interview started and steer you in the right direction. Of course you are not just limited to just them, you can ask as many as you want. And make sure you do!