Five Questions to Ask a Potential Child Care Provider
Parents and caregivers are tasked with many responsibilities, especially in the early years of a child’s life. One of the most important decisions parents and caregivers will make is choosing the right childcare program for their child’s pre-kindergarten years. Those who are new to the child care experience, like first time parents, should take the time to do their homework before scheduling tours of any potential facilities. With so many options out there, knowing which questions to ask in advance will help you find the best fit for your child and family. These five questions can help you evaluate potential programs and get a sense of how different programs stack up.
1. What would my child’s typical day be like?
Child care facilities can vary greatly when it comes to how a child’s day is structured. Some may be highly structured while others may approach the day with a free play model that breaks for meals. What works best for one child and family may not work best for another child and family. But what parents and caregivers will want to be on the lookout for is a good variety of indoor and outdoor activities, and plenty of opportunities to learn through play and exploration. As this may be your child’s first formal learning experience, it’s wise to have a good grasp on how they will spend their time throughout the day. Don’t be shy about asking follow-up questions about the program’s daily structure. What is taught that will help promote my child’s educational, social and emotional development? Exactly how much time will my child be able to spend outdoors each day? While the answers can be pretty openended, a mix of indoor and outdoor activities is something all parents and caregivers should want to hear.
2. How does this program protect children from accidents, injuries and illness?
While accidents here and there are inevitable in childhood, parents and caregivers will want to ensure their potential child care program has well established health and safety practices to protect their children throughout the day. From minor scrapes to COVID-19 protocols, be sure to ask any future child care provider about how your child is being kept safe. Parents and caregivers should be mindful of a few things in particular: Does the program always place babies on their backs to sleep? Are staff members certified in pediatric first aid training and CPR? Does the facility maintain enhanced COVID-19 protocols such as daily surface and toy sanitation and hand washing? How do staff members keep track of children as they transition from classroom to playground and back? Are all staff members certified and background checked? Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for details on how child care staff handle potential emergencies.
3. What type of experience and education requirements are there for your teachers?
Ideally, parents and caregivers should look for staff members experienced in early childhood settings who are familiar with child development and able to plan learning opportunities specific to their child. Beyond state certification, which ensures staff members have completed the formal training required to meet the state’s standards for providing high-quality early childhood care, parents and caregivers should also ask whether a facility’s staff members have been background checked and screened for potential criminal behavior. Those teachers who are experienced in early childhood care settings should be familiar with these practices and eager to share their qualifications with parents and caregivers.
4. What can I expect teachers to share with me about my child?
Open communication is key when it comes to all child care. It’s important to have back and forth communication for a number of reasons. One, it can go a long way in providing peace of mind if parents and caregivers are able to receive periodic updates about their child throughout the week. Secondly, the exchange of information between parents and teachers can be a big help in providing activities that support the child’s home environment. Lastly, communication is key in any healthy, positive relationship and this is no different when it comes to the student/parent and teacher relationship. Parents and caregivers will want to ensure that any prospective child care facility is eager and willing to communicate.
5. What is your ABC quality rating?
Beyond being licensed or registered providers, early childhood programs throughout the state can choose to pursue a higher-than-required level of oversight through South Carolina’s ABC Quality program. The ABC Quality program assesses and rates the quality of early childhood programs throughout the state and provides an objective measure to use when comparing options. ABC Quality is a voluntary rating and improvement program that helps parents and caregivers identify the highest-quality child care providers for their children. Use our search tool to check ratings of participating providers or to connect with a rated provider near you.
By ABC Quality Team on October 7, 2021