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Tips for Picking a Home Daycare - Questions to Ask at a Home Daycare Visit

Updated on November 17, 2011
A clean, bright play area is an important part of a home daycare.
A clean, bright play area is an important part of a home daycare. | Source

When debating childcare, one option you may consider is home daycare. Home daycare is the third most popular childcare option, after center care and relative care. Home daycare has many advantages, including more flexibility for your child’s schedule; a warm, friendly environment; one consistent care provider; and often lower cost. However, the quality of home daycare can vary widely, and home daycare regulations differ among states. There are many factors to consider when choosing home daycare, and you'll need to decide if you want one that has a home daycare license. You should always interview the provider and tour their home before making any decisions.

Questions you should ask a potential home daycare provider include:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Do you have a state license?
  3. How many children do you have at once?
  4. Do you have any assistants?
  5. What is your sick child policy?
  6. What are your hours? Do you charge a late pick-up fee?
  7. What is your holiday schedule?
  8. Do you charge for days the child does not attend?
  9. Do you offer any sick or vacation days?
  10. Do you provide lunches or snacks? What is a typical lunch (and/or snack)?
  11. Do you provide a daily report or another method for communicating with parents?
  12. How do you discipline children?
  13. Do you have emergency training?
  14. Is your house child-proofed?
  15. Do you have a safe outdoor area to play?
  16. What is a sample schedule for a day?
  17. Do you let children watch television?
  18. Where do children sleep? Do you have a nap schedule?
  19. Do you have references I can call?
  20. Will anyone else be in contact with my child(ren)?

Aside from asking the home care provider questions, be sure to clearly observe the environment. Is it safe? Childproofed? Are there any obvious hazards? Is it clean and pleasant looking? If there are animals, do they seem friendly? How does the provider interact with children? Are there age-appropriate toys?

Many people recommend only choosing one that is regulated by the state, but I don’t always think that a license always determines quality. I’ve found a fabulous home daycare for my daughter, but I had to do plenty of searching. The first home I went into had about two dozen liquor bottles in the kitchen in reach of older children. I found that fairly alarming and inappropriate and kept up my search. You’ll know when you find a place you feel comfortable leaving your child.

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    • profile image

      Lisa 12 months ago

      I have been a licensed day care provider for over 23 years. I started to be home with my own children and earn an income. I have always loved children and try to keep my rates affordable for my small town. Providing a loving ,caring ,safe place so parents can go to work with no worries. Like any job it has its downside and for me,that comes with the challenge of the ever increasing demands placed on us by the licensing department. Definitely ask questions when interviewing a provider,call references and make sure you can handle the terms of the contract. Many providers go above and beyond everyday to ensure your little ones are happy and safe.

    • profile image

      Dani 4 years ago

      I run a home daycare and I charge the same rate as a lot of centers in my area, but when I interview families, it's more for me than them. I'm interviewing the family and child to make sure they would be a good fit for my group. It really varies from state to state as to whether a license is important. If your state doesn't allow license-exempt care, then you have to choose licensed homes. If it does, be aware of the number of children allowed to be considered license-exempt and the ages currently in care. Some of the best home daycares (including mine) are license-exempt and some of the worst have a license. It's really about doing your homework, taking a tour, and going with your intuition, not just your budget :)

    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 5 years ago from USA

      All great tips. I remember when my kids were little. It can be scary for new moms.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      These are very good questions to ask! I had not even considered sick days. Gosh, that would be a difficult thing to plan around!

    • LucysMom profile image

      LucysMom 5 years ago

      Thanks! Home daycare has been a great option for us because it is more flexible and is saving us money.

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 5 years ago from Philippines

      Hi. Home daycare is popular here in our place and I agree with you that it gives more flexibility in terms of schedule. Though there are charging lower fees, it doesn't mean that it's not worth the service. You have a good list of guide questions there.