Choosing a Home Childcare Provider

You’ve looked at the options and decided to place your child with a home childcare provider. How do you find the best fit for your family? First, make a list of names and phone numbers of home childcare providers in your area. To create your list, look for ads in the paper, notices on neighborhood bulletin boards or where you work, signs in yards, and recommendations from friends. Make this initial list as long as you can.

Once you have a starting point, start making calls. Remember that most home providers work a long day without help. Don’t be upset by getting an answering machine or a request to call back at another time. Many home childcare providers will only give minimal information on an initial call and will want to set up an appointment to meet you. You’ll want to meet when she does not have children in care, in order to have her full attention. Ask on the call, whether you should bring your child to the initial interview.

There are some important things to keep in mind when considering a home childcare provider. First, you are dealing with a professional, and childcare is this woman’s job. Approach it as a business, please. Next, you and your child need to fit her group and program as much as they need to fit you. Finally, when you do place your child with a home provider, remember that you are a client, not an employer, and will be unable to dictate policies. Make sure you are aware of and in agreement with the childcare provider’s policies. Once you are through all this you can also check Daycare in Houston Heights one of the most reliable and experienced service providers. You can get in touch with them and get yourself assured of their service. 

On your initial phone call, ask about the number and ages of children in care, the childcare provider’s qualifications, services provided, and cost. You want someone caring for no more than two or three infants, or five toddlers, or eight preschoolers, or some reasonable combination of those numbers. You want a provider certified in infant/child CPR and first aid. Look for someone with education/training in early childhood development as well. A good child caregiver will be able to tell you quickly whether they provide meals, preschool activities, etc. Do ask for the childcare provider’s rates, but don’t make it your primary criterion. Know what you can afford and look for the best value in that price range.

Once you have made your interview appointment, be sure that you show up, on time or call well in advance. At the provider’s home, you will want to see age-appropriate toys and activities in a good variety. You will be expecting a reasonable level of cleanliness, but not a room that doesn’t look lived in, or played in. If the caregiver will be preparing meals you can ask to see the kitchen, but do not open cupboards, fridge, or dishwasher without an invitation. Remember that you are in the provider’s home, and extend the courtesy of respecting her privacy. If the childcare area of the home and the kitchen and bathroom are clean and attractive, sit down and ask questions.

Begin by asking the provider to “tell me about your childcare home”. You want information about meals, a typical daily schedules and rates and policies. Specifically, what and when do children eat and nap? What is done about picky eaters and non-nappers? How much time is spent in free play, and how much is structured? When and where do children play outdoors? What are emergency procedures? Who is responsible for back-up care when the provider is ill? What are payment policies when your child is absent? Does the provider have a discipline policy?

There is no “right” answer to most of these questions. Some parents want their children to have free play most of the day, others prefer more structure in daycare. You may want your child going on lots of field trips, a different parent doesn’t want others driving her child. Make up a “cheat sheet” of all the questions you want to ask, and leave room for others you may think of. Take notes. At the conclusion of the interview, thank the childcare provider and agree on a time when you will call back. This should be soon, as the provider is probably interviewing other families as well as yours.

Once you have interviewed with everyone on your shortlist, place them in order of appeal to you and your child. If you are lucky, your first choice will be able to accept your child in care, but you may need to take a second or third choice. If none of the acceptable caregivers are able to accept your child, start from scratch or re-consider whether a nanny or childcare center might better fit your needs. Saving yourself a few days of research and legwork is not worth placing your child in a sub-standard childcare environment.