Step 2: Call and Visit
You have your referral list, so now it is time to make some phone calls and visit some programs.
Wondering what questions to ask on the phone and during your visit? The following lists of questions and things to look for were developed based on studies about safe, high-quality care for children. More information about what makes a good child care program can be found under Assessing Quality.
Questions to Ask on the Phone
You can learn a lot in a phone conversation with an early childhood professional. Asking these questions on the phone can save time and help you narrow down your list to those programs you would like to interview in person.
- "Hi, my name is _________ and I am looking for child care for my _____ (month/year- old) child.
Ask if they have an opening.
- "I would like to start care ______. Do you have an opening?"
- "I need care _____(days/hours). Does that work with your schedule?
Talk about money.
- "How much does your program cost? Are there extra charges for registration, deposit, food, supplies, etc.?"
- If your family receives child care assistance: "Will you accept child care assistance payments?"
Ask about the children already in the program.
- For homes: "How many children are in your program? What are their ages?"
- For centers: "How many children will be in my child's class? How many teacher and aides are in this room?"
Learn about their experience in child care.
- For homes: "How long have you been caring for children?"
- For centers: "How long have the teacher for this group been with the program?"
Ask about other issues that are important to you.
- These may include pets, daily schedule and activities, transportation, meals and snacks, etc.
Schedule a visit.
- If you like the answers to your questions, make an appointment to visit.
Questions and things to look for during your visits:
- How will my child be supervised?
- Will my child be able to grow and learn?
- Is this a safe and healthy place for my child?
- Is the program well-managed?
- How does the program work closely with parents?
For more questions, click on Child Care Checklist.
Ideas for the Interview Process
- We suggest you visit at least three different programs so you can learn more about child care and early education, and compare the quality of care.
- If a program seems like a good fit for your child and family visit more than once. Ask any follow-up questions or take a look at something you forgot during the first interview.
- It's also helpful to schedule your second visit at a different time of day so you can see a variety of activities.
- For family child care, make sure at least one of your visits is during the time children are present.
- For child care centers, make sure to meet all early childhood professionals who will be with your child.
- Depending on the age of your child and your child's comfort, it can be helpful to take your child to visit the program so you can watch the adults interacting with your child.