Now that you have a list of possible child care providers, it’s time to narrow it by taking the next step in the process: calling the providers and interviewing them over the phone. This will give you a better sense of who the providers are as people and what their programs offer.
Here are some of the questions that you might ask in a phone interview:
- What time do you open and close?
- How much do you charge and when are payments made? Weekly? Monthly?
- Does the price include meals and snacks, or do I need to bring food for my child?
- Are your services and fees written down in a contract or service agreement?
- Do you have a schedule of times when your program will be closed (for holidays, staff vacations, etc.)? What are your policies for unexpected closures (illness, severe weather, etc.)? Will I be charged for those days?
- If for some reason my child can no longer attend your program, how much advance notification would you require?
- How many other children are in your program and what are their ages?
- What kinds of activities are offered on a daily basis?
- Does a child have to be toilet trained to come to your program?
- What is the adult to child ratio at the program?
- What are the typical sizes of the groups that children are in?
- If it is relevant: Do you have services for children with special needs?
- What kind of experience and education do the caregivers have? Is there much turnover? (It is much better if there is not much turnover because it creates a more stable environment for children.)
MORE THAN ONE WAY TO GET INFORMATION
Some families choose to visit programs without conducting phone interviews. In fact, many programs provide the answers to the questions listed here in their literature or on their websites. It is essential that you collect this information. However, you can collect it in the way that works best for you.
There are quite a few questions here and you may have additional questions to ask during the phone interview. Do not worry if you do not get to ask all these questions on the phone. These are simply the kinds of questions that are good to ask in order to give you more information about each program and to help you narrow down your list of providers.
Once you have done your phone interviews, it is time for the next step in the process - Visiting Programs.