Please review Step 1: Define Your Perfect Situation
And Step 2: Set Up a Tour
In the above steps you've identified your requirements, found a few places to tour and now it's time to actually interview the providers.
Step 3: The Interview
The initial "interview" actually occurs in Step 2 when you are setting up the tour. How did you make contact with the provider? Did you make a phone call, send an email, maybe it was via text, or an online tour request? All of these methods give you some insight into how the provider is comfortable with communicating with parents. Many providers are very good at caring for children but not so technologically savvy. With this type of provider you may be limited to only phone calls and in person discussions.
In Step 1 of this process you defined your perfect situation. One of the components of your perfect situation may be getting text messages through out the day with status updates for your child. During your interview process be sure that the provider you are talking to is capable of meeting your needs and you should have no problem being clear about your needs as they will be listed for you in Step 1.
Once you have actually arrived at a facility, give the provider a chance to show you around and offer any information they might be prepared with...many questions will be answered during the tour of the facility. You should be looking for safety, cleanliness, and overall feel of the place.
Once the tour is officially complete then it's your turn to ask any questions that you didn't hear the answer to in the tour. Think about the normal daily routine of your child and compare that to the daily routine of the program. If there are any differences, be sure to learn how they will be overcome. Many times if your child's nap time is at a different time than the established program nap time, your child will be the one to compromise and change schedules. Is that ok with you? Or would you like your child's nap time take precedence? Can that be arranged? It is important to iron out the details before placing your child so that everyone has a smooth transition.
Take a look at the license number of the facility and call to get a report on any incidences that might have occurred. If the provider cannot provide a license number, this is a red flag that you should pay close attention to as the provider is either not licensed or does not want you to know the number. Why? Maintaining a license is not a difficult or expensive process but does require a commitment to quality child care. There are inspections done by the state (both announced and random) and there is a minimum standard of care that all licensees are held to. Many providers exceed this minimum level but at lease you know they can't go below it for long without a complaint being filed. A huge benefit to being licensed is the support structure that is given to licensed child care providers. There are many free developmental courses offered, food programs ensuring nutritional fare, and other great networking benefits to being licensed, both for the provider and the families in the program. During your tour ask to see a list of programs that your provider participates in or courses the provider has completed. This will give you a great idea of the education level and community involvement of the provider.
Compare your Perfect Situation list to the program the provider has and determine if enough of the points are met for you and your family to be happy. Once you have a few interviews under your belt it's time to move to the next step.
Step 4: Enroll Your Child
4: Enroll Your Child
5: Evaluating Your Child Care Program