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Tips on Choosing Quality Child Care

How to Interview Childcare Providers

Once you have received a recommended list of childcare programs from 4C, you are ready to begin the
interviewing process. The following step-by-step guide is provided to assist you with the process.

Step 1
By speaking with the caregiver over the phone, you can mutually determine if you would like to follow up with a site visit. By asking the
caregiver a few key questions you may save valuable time during the interviewing process. Some questions you may wish to include are:

  • Vacancies. Does the caregiver have a current opening?
  • Cost (including payment schedule)?
  • How long has he/she cared for children?
  • Background.
  • Their experience?
  • Their training?

Step 2
After you have arranged interviews with the providers, consider making your own list of questions. Some of these could be as follows:
How do you:

  • Establish trust with children?
  • Comfort a distressed child?
  • Group children? (By age or development?)
  • Help children to develop socially acceptable behavior?
  • Let children know that you care for them?
  • Nurture a child's self-esteem?
  • Teach children about limits?
  • Teach children to be responsible?
  • Use your knowledge of child development in your program?

    • In what ways can children explore and exercise their creativity in your program? How is each child's uniqueness acknowledged?
    • What is done to encourage children to learn self-control?
    • What is your program philosophy? (Style of teaching?)
    • Do you use age appropriate toys and materials?
    • What discipline techniques do you use?
    • What opportunities do children have to be independent as well as play or work cooperatively?
    • May I visit the program unannounced after my child is enrolled?
    • Does the provider have liability insurance? (Family day care?)

    We recommend that you bring your child to these visits to see how he or she responds to the caregiver and the other children in the
    program. At this point, you might discuss business related issues, such as:

  • References from the caregiver (may include past as well as present clients)
  • Ask for and review caregiver's contract. The contract should include:
    • Enrollment/withdrawal procedures
    • Probationary period
    • Hours/fees/payment agreement
    • Vacation/sick days (caregiver as well as child)
    • Illness policy
    • Supplies (what parent needs to bring)
    • )

    • Meals (does the caregiver provide them)

    Step 3
    You should use your second site visit as an observation tool. Since your visit is likely to be during business hours, keep in mind that the
    caregiver may not be able to give you full attention, as he/she will be busy with the children. If you have additional questions, you may wish to set an appointment with the caregiver at a more convenient time for him/her. It is best not to bring your child to this visit as your
    child may want your attention or may be distracting. Some things you may want to pay specific attention to are:

  • Ages of other children currently enrolled in the program
  • Behavior of the children
  • Do children sound/act happy?
  • Interaction between caregiver and children (both verbal and non-verbal)
  • Discipline techniques of caregiver
  • Environment
  • Cleanliness of facility
  • Cleanliness of children
  • Are all health/safety procedures followed?

After you have made your child care selection (either family day care or child care center) you may contact Community Care Licensing
(the local licensing agency for Santa Clara County) at (408) 324-2148. They will review the licensing file on that provider with you. You
will want to pay specific attention to:

  • Serious complaints against the provider
  • Resolution of complaint
  • Step 4
    After enrolling your child, you will want to maintain ongoing communication with the provider by:

  • Dropping in for a brief visit during the first week of care (you may want to drop in occasionally afterwards on an ongoing basis)
  • Checking your child's progress regularly
  • Communicating daily with the caregiver
  • Listening to what your child says about his/her experience (both through verbal and non-verbal means)
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