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Questions to Ask and Things to Look for:
Parents should visit several places before choosing the best place to send their child(ren). You may choose to look in your community or near your work. Call each program and ask some questions over the phone before you decide which to visit. Listed below are some sample questions to ask over the phone and things to look for when you visit. Visit several places before choosing the best place for your child. Perhaps take along a friend or relative. Ask for names of other parents to talk to about the quality of the care.
Questions to ask by phone before you decide which programs to visit:
• Is the program licensed? For what ages’? For how many children? What are the ages of the children your child will be with?
• What hours are you open? What happens if I am late picking up my child or drop the child off early?
• What is the cost of care? What does it include (e.g. meals, diapers, transportation, admission fee, etc.) ? What will my child need to bring each day? (Lunch, snacks, diapers, etc.)
• Do you offer tuition assistance? (subsidies such as vouchers or contracted slots)
• Is the location convenient for you to get to and from? Is transportation provided? If not, are you near a bus or subway?
• Is it a nine-month or a year-round program? Are there vacation weeks, holidays, and other times when the program will be closed? Will you have to pay tuition when your child is on vacation?
• How many children are in your program?
• How many teachers and assistants are in your program?
• What are the qualifications of the teachers who will care for my child and how long have they been working in this setting?
• What languages do the staff members speak?
• Is there a place to play outdoors?
• What is the policy for when your child is sick? Will you have to pay tuition when your child is sick?
• If your child has special needs you should ask about any special services that will be provided.
When you visit a program, ask yourself… The caregivers or teachers
• Do they seem friendly and caring?
• How do they interact with children? Do you like what you see?
• Do they respect the children and appreciate their abilities and cultures?
• Does anyone there speak your child’s language?
• How do they respond when children seem unhappy? How do they respond when children have disputes?
• Do the children seem happy and involved in the activities and with other children?
• Can they choose their own activities?
• Are they able to do both quiet activities and physical activities?
• Do the children all sleep at the same time or can they sleep on their own schedule?
• Do you think your child will be happy in this environment?
Other questions to keep in mind
• Is the space safe, clean and comfortable, inside and out?
• Is the space organized so children can do different things in groups, pairs or by themselves?
• What games, toys and other equipment are here? Are they in good condition?
• Are there enough adults for the number of children you see?
• Are parents invited to participate in daily activities or are there other opportunities for parents to be involved?
Child Care Resource Center, Inc.© 130 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139
Parent InfoLine 617-547-1063 ext. 72