tips for transitioning into child care

4 Question Categories To Include In Your Toddler Daycare Phone Interview

You're ready to start toddler child care center phone interviews — but aren't sure what to ask. What do you need to know about your child's potential new future daycare center?  Before you schedule your first phone Q and A session, take a look at these categories of questions to include.

Licensure and Accreditation

While a license doesn't equal high-quality care, it does show that the center meets set health, safety, and training requirements. These could include child to staff ratio, facility care/cleanliness, room size, outdoor space regulations, health record keeping (including immunization requirements), food service and safety, staff background requirements (education, experience, and criminal checks), and ongoing staff training. Each state or local government agency creates licensure regulations, issues licenses, and monitors centers. 

Accreditation is different from licensing. The state or local government isn't likely to require accreditation and doesn't issue this type of approval. Instead, individual child care or early childhood organizations provide accreditation services. An accreditation from a nationally-known organization shows that the center meets minimum curriculum, environment (indoor and outdoor), and staffing requirements. 

Indoor Areas

After you verify the center's licensure and accreditation status, the phone interview can move on to specific areas of the center. Ask questions about the indoor environment—including the size of the classrooms, different classroom spaces (areas for eating, playing, making art, or other activities), gross motor (large muscle movement) areas, the number (if any) of tech or media devices in each classroom, and the types of learning and play materials the children can explore and experiment with.

Outdoor Areas

Along with indoor spaces, daycare centers should also provide an outdoor space or access to an outdoor area. An outdoor play space provides the young students with a way to build gross motor skills, socialize, and possibly even learn about nature/science. The outdoor area should have enough space to accommodate the children without overcrowding the class, clear boundaries, a fence or other barrier, safe and well-maintained play equipment, and a level space that's free of obstacles or hazards. You may also want to ask questions about how the teachers use the outdoor area and how much supervision they provide.

Schedule and Structure

These questions may refer to the overall annual or the daily school schedule and structure. Ask about the typical "school year" and vacation days or weeks when the center may close. Talk to the director (or administrator) about move-up days or times. These are days or times of the year when the school loves individual children or whole classes up a level to the next age grouping. This can help you to plan for multiple years in toddler and preschool care.

For more information, contact a daycare in your area.