Saturday, May 14, 2005

Choosing Childcare: two interview questions

Parents often worry over how their child is being treated at daycare, especially at the beginning. How do they know how the provider acts behind closed doors? When your child can't talk, this concern is particularly acute. Here are a couple of tips: 1. During the interview, ask about turnover. How long do clients typically stay with the caregiver? With very few exceptions, mine have stayed with me from the time mom's maternity leave ended until the child went off to school - three or four years. I've even had two couples opt to keep their child with me through the junior kindergarten year. If the caregiver has a steady turnover, losing children after a few months, this should be a warning sign. Find out more! 2. Does the provider have an Open Door policy? Are parents allowed to drop in unannounced? The answer to this question should be "yes"! Now, I will confess that I don't really like it when parents drop in. It's disruptive for the children, it makes me feel self-conscious, and, if the parent isn't taking the child with them when they leave, I'll almost certainly have an unhappy child on my hands for a while after mommy or daddy's departure. So, all in all, it's a nuisance and a bother! However, this isn't about my convenience. I have an open door policy, because it's only right that a parent have free access to their child. And in fact, once parents knows they may drop in, they very often don't feel the need to actually do it. Those that have dropped in have only ever done it once or twice. I hope this is because the idyllic scene they survey as they enter provides them with all the reassurace they need, but it may well be the fear of a repeat of the almighty fuss their child made at their departure! If the daycare has a high turnover rate and/or a closed door policy, think carefully about sending your child there.

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