1. How experienced are the staff and what is the turnover rate? It helps to know if your child is being cared for by well experienced people who are confident in their job role. This goes hand in hand with the turnover rate. It is always reassuring when a daycare center has teachers that have been working there for many years, rather than a center that is always losing and rehiring teachers. This affects the child because they are constantly forced to get used to new people.
2. What is your policy for sick children? Children in daycare at a higher risk for getting sick than those who stay home with a parent, it is important to know what measures the daycare has in place to limit the spread of illness. Many providers will have in place, a policy that requires sick children to be picked up once their temperate goes over 100 degrees and those children can only return once they have been symptom free for 24hours. While explaining this policy too you, they will also inform what types of medication they can give to your child and what paperwork may be needed from the doctor.
3. Do you have strict rules on vaccinations? Some daycares require that children provide an up to date list of all vaccinations they have had, and they do not allow children to remain in attendance if they are missing some of the required vaccinations. As a parent it is important to know if the children that play with your child are vaccinated or not.
4. Do you have a policy for shoes? Considering the fact that children usually play on the floor, it is no surprise that many daycares require shoe covers to be worn to enter certain play areas. Some daycares may also require that shoes be taken off to enter certain rooms. This really helps to cut down on the amount of dirt and germs transferred from outside. Unfortunately there are still several daycares that allow parents and teachers to freely walk in all rooms with their shoes from outside , which is quite terrible especially when it snows and their shoes have de-icing salt residue underneath.
5. How often are the toys cleaned and disinfected? It is inevitable that children will pass on germs to each other, but it is the daycares responsibility to have good hygiene practices set in place to make sure they can minimize the spread of germs and illness.
6. How are bottles and baby food warmed up? These days everyone wants to benefit from the convenience of a microwave. But it is not always ideal to heat up baby food in a microwave, in fact breast milk and formula should never be put in the microwave. Not only does the microwave destroy nutrients in the food, but it also can create hotspots since it doesn't heat the food up evenly. A better alternative to a microwave would be a crock pot, or bottle warmer.
7. How do you keep track of each child's day? It is pretty standard that most daycares will provide a sheet with all the details of your child's day such as all their meals, naps and diaper changes. This allows the parent to stay informed on their child's routine outside the home.
8. Does each child have their own assigned crib? Ideally each child should have their own crib assigned to them, with their name tag on the crib, and they keep that same crib for as long as they are in the infant room. Some daycares find it easier to just put any child into any crib, depending on which crib is empty. Which means multiple babies will share the same bed linen, this is not ideal.
9. Do you provide bed linen? This goes hand in hand with question 8 above. Ideally its best if the parent gets to bring in their own bed linen. This ensures that your child is the only one using that crib and doesn't share bed linen with anyone one else
10. What is your vacation policy? Many daycares will insist that you pay your monthly tuition regardless of attendance, which means even if you take a week off you still have to pay. But it is definitely worth asking this question as some daycares will give you a free week or two at certain times of the year.
11. Can I look inside your fridge? Looking inside the fridge really tells you a lot about a daycare. The best case scenario will be that the fridge is well organized with baskets and trays that are clearly labeled for each child. This guarantees that there will be no errors or mix ups such as feeding the wrong child the wrong food.
12. How do you store diapers and wipes? It is important that they have in place a well organized system that allows them to store each child's diapers and wipes in such a way that they always use the right diapers for the right child. You can ask to see this storage too.
Aside from the questions listed above, it is important to pay attention to little details such as the ventilation in the room, the room temperature and the general mood of all the teachers, parents and children there. It is always a good idea to stop by unannounced and see how they run things when they aren't expecting you.