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Teacher child ratio
Dates they close for holidays/teacher planning
Food they serve
Rules about progression on milestones (must go to sippy cup at age X, must lay in cot at age X instead of crib, dropping naps, etc)
How they handle behavior issues
How much outdoor playtime
I sent some Facebook messages to friends who have recently returned to work...
I'll paste the responses in here for you Jacque!
Here's some for a home daycare:
What qualifications do the daycare ppl have. (eg ECE?, degree?, course) what happens if case of emergency? If they have a set schedule for children? (tv time? reading time? out door play? )How they handle a child that has done something wrong/ dangerous? How many children per caretaker? What fees are if late pick up? Child sick? Over holidays?
Another for a home daycare:
What they did with the kids during the day, what would be offered food-wise, if they were flexible with allergies, what their experience was, how they handled discipline, how many kids they take care of each day, how flexible they are with regards to drop off and pick up times, how they came to offer daycare/their motivation for doing so - those types of questions. We also asked for and checked references and police checks. It is also good to meet the people when they have kids over so you can see them interact with them and see if the kids look engaged and happy.
We specifically did not want to go with a daycare provider that did field trips. We went with a small in-home daycare (well, that was the plan until DH was laid off). One of the big selling points was that she never took the kids off-site. Some will do field trips. So it's just what you prefer in that regard.
We also asked what the typical schedule was for a child. It's obviously different for a 3-month-old versus a 1-year-old. I really liked to hear their responses to this one though. We didn't want our baby just stuck in a swing for hours.
The rules thing ended up being very important to us. My son wasn't ready to drop the bottle exactly at 6 months, or switch to a nap mat instead of a crib exactly at 12 months, or stop heating his milk at 12 months or dropping afternoon nap at 12 months.......they literally did ALL those things on his first birthday when he was recovering from strep & a double ear infection....and he just didn't drink milk all day because he didn't want it cold. One of the nicer teachers pulled me aside that afternoon and said "I snuck him some warm milk when we were outside" and that was it....I was livid and we pulled him out. Also the illness thing got out of control for us. They used to post all the sicknesses on a board outside each classroom and his literally once said "2 strep throats, 5 ear infections, 1 flu with fever, 1 flu wiht diarrhea, 3 hand foot and mouth, 2 molluscus, and 1 pink eye." EEK!!
So now he has a nanny (since we have two this ends up being cheaper than 2 in daycare anyway). And this was the "best" daycare in Atlanta costing $1700 a month!
Wow! That's crazy Melanie! I'm glad you found something that works for you after that though. That's also part of the reason I'm leaning towards a home daycare at this point. Being flexible and realizing infants can't be slotted into cookie-cutter ideas is important to me, and I think that will be easier in a home daycare. That said, I could be totally wrong, no clue! That's why I'm interviewing until I find what I am comfortable with.
I am hoping that I can find a caregiver that has been to university, so that will be a question that I will be asking - not a huge deal but a preference. Other than that, a lot will be based on meeting the person (most likely home daycare) and seeing if they are kind and the general vibe I get from her.
My brother lives in TO and some of his options were homecare with Muslim lady who cooks and has son who is studying to be a doctor, friend's GF who doesn't want to go back to work, and Filipino nanny-share.
He is going with the Muslim lady and I think that is a great choice considering she raised a son who is obviously doing well.