Child Care Checklist: Questions to Ask As You Weigh Child Care Options

Child Care Checklist: Questions to Ask As You Weigh Child Care Options

More and more parents are headed back to the office, increasing work travel, or working full-time from home and are in need of child care. 

Picking a child care provider is a major decision for families. Whether you’re interested in sending your little one to a child care center or hiring a private, at-home caregiver, there are a few things you should take into consideration beforehand.  

“The demand that we’re seeing has been pretty steady over the past couple of years,” Melissa Ridler at The Nanny Connection says. “We’re still seeing quite a few where at least one parent is still working from home, but the demand is still there because they need to get work done.” 

In addition to needing child care for work, Ally Vacha, lead teacher at The Goddard School, says some parents are seeking childcare for social exposure.  

“Many of the young children attending child care at this time are ‘pandemic babies’ — meaning they were born during or just after the pandemic,” Vacha says. “This may have robbed some children of the social and emotional contact that is so crucial during infancy. I think many parents can appreciate — now more than ever — the peer interaction that child care offers and are looking towards group care as an excellent resource to help prepare their children for the big wide world.”

How early should you start your search? 

“If you’re expecting and think you might be interested in utilizing child care, my advice would be to start your search as soon as possible, as the waitlists for infant classrooms are notoriously long among childcare centers,” Vacha says. “The infant-to-teacher ratio in Ohio is 5-to-1, so spaces are very limited in these classrooms. This number increases with the age of the children, so the general rule of thumb is that space will be more limited in younger classrooms.”

For a private nanny, placement typically takes 3-6 weeks. 

“However, it may take more time if, for example, you have very specific or uncommon requirements,” says Lindsey Taggart, director of operations at Pink Nannies. 

 What Are the Current Trends in Child Care? 

“Communication and curriculum are two of the most common questions we receive from parents,” says Brittany Madonna, senior vice president of marketing and communications at The Nest Schools. “Parents want to know how they will stay updated on their child’s day. They want to feel that they are not missing out on important milestones and that the school is their partner in raising their child. Families seeking preschool tend to be more interested in curriculum components and kindergarten readiness.” 

In private child care, parents are asking for flexibility and some are requesting additional education specialties.

“Parents are looking for nannies who are flexible (able to stay late or arrive early), and some families are looking for individuals who can be flexible enough to accommodate an ever changing schedule,” Taggart explains. “They are also requesting nannies who have a degree in early childhood education, who are trained in areas like Montessori/RIE/Waldorf, individuals who have a background in ABA therapy, or candidates who are bilingual.”

Some busy families are also asking for help with household management responsibilities. 

“It could be errands or grocery shopping, it could be meal prep, or to the extent of coordinating appointments for the family,” Ridler adds.

 How Do You Prepare for Child Care? 

Before you decide on a child care center, you’ll want to tour the space, meet the teachers and fill out any necessary paperwork. 

“On your school tour, you should meet with the school administration and teachers and visit your child’s potential classroom” Madonna says. “This will help give you a good overall feel of the school’s culture.”

Once you have settled on a school, you will need to provide up-to-date medical information, emergency contact info and other important information about your child.

“You may also be given a questionnaire to fill out about your child’s routine, habits, personality, and anything else that might help the center to better understand and care for your child,” Vacha adds.

If you’re planning on hiring a nanny, you’ll want to do an interview, ask for references and do a background check and driving record check.

“You’ll want to ask about their child care experience, what is a typical day for them,” Ridler advises. “Ask situational questions, ‘what if this happens, how would you handle it.’ You want to assess energy, engagement and passion for child care.” 


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