Choosing a daycare for your kids can be so stressful. It’s hard to know which questions to ask a home daycare provider so you can make an informed decision.
Both of my children spent time in home daycares as infants and toddlers, I liked the “home from home” feel of another mom looking after my children, the home-cooked food, and the flexible schedule.
In addition to my own experience using home daycares, I drew from the experience of two of my good friends who run daycares themselves.
I also served on the board of a childcare center for 2 years so am familiar with some of the questions that commonly come up.
When you consider that working families spend an average of $250 per week on child care, choosing the right daycare is an important issue that many of us face at some point.
In-home daycares are especially tricky to research as there are not normally many references or online reviews to check so it’s important to ask all the questions during the daycare interview.
If you are currently researching potential in-home daycare providers, the best thing you can do is go to the interview armed with a list of all the things you want to know about how they manage their daycare and what you can expect.
Below you will find a comprehensive list of 45 daycare interview questions for parents along with a printable checklist. I’ve included specific infant care questions at the bottom of the page for those of you with young babies.
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How To Find A Good Home Daycare
Before you can start asking your daycare interview questions, you need to have a few potential daycares in mind. Here are the best places to find a good home daycare:
- Word of mouth – ask friends, neighbors, everyone you know
- Neighbourhood Facebook groups
- Local Listings – I have found home daycares on a site called Daycare Bear (US and Canada only)
- Government websites – they will probably list licensed providers in your area
Once you have a few daycares in mind, you can ask for recommendations or experience on local mom groups too.
Things To Ask A Potential Daycare Provider
When you are considering what to ask a nursery or daycare, think about your own parenting style and how important it is to you that your provider matches the way you parent.
A few questions to ask a home daycare that you might want to think about are the daycare policies on issues such as:
- Sweets and Treats
Everyone has their own views and opinions on these things so you want to make sure that the childcare provider that you choose aligns with your views and way of bringing up your child.
One home daycare provider that I interviewed mentioned that, rather than a formal nap time, they all napped together on her couch, including her! Glad I asked!
If you have strong feelings about things like screen time or sugar intake, it is definitely worth bringing it up at the daycare interview to avoid awkwardness further down the road if things are not as you had expected.
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Special Concerns To Mention in the Daycare Interview
If you have any special requirements or unusual parenting techniques that you would like the in-home daycare to follow, it is best to bring them up before you commit to a provider.
Not all daycares are willing to accommodate special requests, especially if they will disrupt their regular routine or create a lot of extra work.
Questions to ask a home daycare regarding special circumstances
- Cloth Diapering (explain what you would need her to do, what supplies you would provide)
- Breastfeeding – if you are still breastfeeding your baby to sleep, it is worth mentioning it in case the first few weeks are difficult at nap time
- Pacifier use – some daycares forbid the use of pacifiers so it is worth bringing up if your child uses one
- Allergies and special food requirements – Not all in-home daycares are able to accommodate allergies or they may ask you to bring food in.
- Medications – Let the daycare know upfront if your child requires regular medicine or has an EpiPen.
45 Questions To Ask A Home Daycare Provider
This list of daycare interview questions will help you to get a feel for any home daycares that you visit and to make the right decision for your family.
Underneath these questions, you will find the printable version that you can take with you to the interview.
General Daycare Interview Questions
1.How long have you been in business? Do you have any formal qualifications?
Many home daycare providers do not have formal qualifications but they will probably be able to explain a little of their experience either bringing up their own children or looking after other children.
Bear in mind that many home daycares are run by moms who want to either stay at home with their own kids or who enjoy children and want the flexibility that running their own home daycare brings.
2. Why do you work with children? What do you like most about caring for them? What do you like least about it?
This question is really to get a feel for the daycare and why they have chosen this career.
3. How many children do you currently look after?
You want to know the ages of the children at the daycare. Are there children close to your child’s age? Is it all babies?
Is there a maximum number of children they will take on? Many regions have a legal ratio of children to adults so you want to make sure this is being followed. Check your state daycare regulations for information.
4.Are you regulated? Are you a member of any associations?
There are licensed and unlicensed home daycares depending on where you live. Some have inspections from the local municipality which may be important to you.
Questions To Ask A Home Daycare About Their Hours
5. What are your hours?
Make sure the hours work for your schedule and ask how flexible they are. If you need special hours for shift work or a teacher’s schedule, make sure they are able to accommodate you.
Most home daycares that I found open around 7-7.30pm and close at 5 pm or 6 pm.
Do they take snow days or adhere to other school board policies as some do.
I was really shocked to find out that my home daycare was closed on snow days as of course, my work is not closed on those days and it meant I was stuck for childcare.
Another thing to confirm is whether they ever close early, my home daycare did close early before holidays or even her own vacations. If this is the case, you need to know how much notice you will be given so you can make alternate arrangements.
6. What’s your holiday schedule? How does your vacation work?
You want to know upfront how much vacation they will take each year and how much notice you will get in case you need to make alternative arrangements. Also, confirm whether it is paid or unpaid.
Many home daycare providers factor in a two-week paid vacation into their contracts meaning you still pay but the daycare is closed. Make sure this is clear in the contract.
Also, consider asking about holidays that aren’t statutory holidays by law but that many people take such as the Friday after Thanksgiving.
7. How flexible are you with pickup and drop-off times? Is there a late-pickup fee?
Some home daycare providers run very strict schedules and will charge you per minute when you are late to pick up.
This might not work for you if you have a long commute and may get stuck in traffic.
Is there ever an opportunity for an early drop-off/late pick-up if needed?
Even if you don’t foresee this being an issue, it is worth bringing it up at the daycare interview for any emergencies that arise.
Bear in mind that home daycares run by moms with their own school-aged children may not be flexible with pick-up times if their children are in extracurricular activities or need to be carpooled somewhere.
8. Do I pay when my child is ill or when we are on vacation?
At almost all in-home daycares, you will pay if you are on vacation (unless otherwise agreed upon eg. teacher’s hours) or if your child is sick.
What happens when you go on vacation? Do you have to give a certain notice to the home daycare provider?
This is also an opportunity to see if you can coordinate vacation schedules to save money if you are charged for the daycare vacation weeks.
9. How much are your fees?
Average prices for home daycare vary enormously by region. In my area you can pay between $45-70 a day for full-time in home daycare.
Find out the price you will be charged and how you are expected to pay (weekly, biweekly, etc).
10. Do you provide a tax receipt?
You can claim childcare expenses on your taxes in many countries (check for your own specific situation – I’m not a tax professional). You will need an official receipt from your in-home daycare provider for this.
11. May I contact some references?
Ask for the emails or numbers of a couple of recent families who have used the potential provider. Ask them why they left and any concerns they had.
Communication between the Parent and In-Home Daycare Provider
12. How will we stay in touch?
Communication is really important because you can’t always expect to be able to talk to your daycare provider during the chaos of drop off and pick up when other parents are coming and going.
You will need to keep your provider updated on any behavior/nap changes or potential concerns with your child and vice versa.
Will you receive texts when necessary or does your daycare provider prefer to call? Advise on your availability if you are often in meetings and can’t answer the phone.
Also discuss how they will reach you in an emergency situation and make sure to give them some alternative contacts in case you are unreachable.
13. Will I receive a daily report of my child’s meals and activities?
Don’t assume you will be given information regarding meals or diaper changes unless this is agreed upon beforehand.
If it is important to you to know exactly what your child is doing every day, this should be discussed at the interview.
14. Do you send photos/texts throughout the day?
I personally love receiving photos of my children out and about with their home daycare. It really brightens up my day to see them having fun with their friends.
If this kind of communication is important to you, make sure to ask about it at the interview.
15. Do you post on social media about your daycare?
This is one of those polarizing topics. My friend Jillian used a home daycare that had a Facebook page where they posted pictures of the daily activities and different things the kids got up to.
It was great for potential parents to see what to expect in that particular home daycare but it did bring up some privacy concerns. You may also wonder what your children up to while their carer is online (naptime?)
If you are not comfortable with your child being photographed for social media, this is an important discussion to have before you sign any daycare contract.
You might also want to make sure that any social media pages or groups are private and for current parents only if they include information about the children.
Daycare Philosophy and Attitudes
16. How do you discipline the children? What is your philosophy? Do you use time-outs?
This is one area where you want to be on the same page as your in-home daycare provider. All children need to be disciplined from time to time as they learn about sharing and being a good friend.
It’s important to ask how your provider will handle challenges and issues as they arise.
Most daycares will be upfront with you about their disciplining strategies and it is worth asking so you know what to expect, especially with older children and toddlers.
17. What Is Your Policy On Biting/Hitting between children?
Of course, no child should be hit or bit by another child but unfortunately it happens even in the best daycares. I mention this question because you need to know the policy for a child who consistently bites other children.
Do they work with the parents on a solution, is there a “three strikes and you’re out” policy?
18. How do you comfort the children?
This may sound like an odd question but I had one daycare who comforted all the children by giving them cookies, creating a terrible situation whenever my daughter wanted a cookie!
Now, this is one of my must-ask questions at daycare interviews.
Questions About Daycare Safety and Regulations
19. Do you have up-to-date CPR and first aid training?
Ask to see the certificate or any other information they can provide regarding their training.
20. Who else lives in the house? Do they have police background checks? Are they around the children?
Everyone who will be around the children (husband, adult children, etc) should have police background checks and be willing to provide them to you.
21. Will My Child Have Constant Supervision?
It may sound crazy but my friend Julie’s daughter came home with a black eye on her second day at a home daycare. The provider could not even provide an explanation which was a concern.
It turns out another 18 month old was a little bit touchy and the provider had not witnessed an incident. You should ask if the children will always be supervised and if not, what are the circumstances (provider in the restroom etc).
22. Do you have a childproofed indoor play area?
Ask to see the playroom and other areas where your child will spend their indoor time. Look for child proofing and baby gates on stairs.
23. Are there any animals in the home?
Many people are not comfortable with unknown dogs around their babies. If this is a concern for you, make sure to find out about any pets and how they are kept in the home.
Bear in mind that pets can be a great learning tool for children.
24. What is your release policy? Who can pick up my child?
Do you need to provide a list of approved names and phone numbers? Will they check ID?
25. Do you allow smoking in the house?
Although it is unlikely that smoking is allowed when the children are around, it is worth finding out if there are any smokers in the house who smoke after hours
Questions About A Typical Daycare Day
26. What activities do you like to do with the children?
Do they go on outings or are they mainly at home doing crafts and activities? If they go on outings, how do they get there? What kinds of places do they go to?
Home daycares I have used have taken the kids to free play places, the library storytime and parks.
If they are going somewhere with a cost involved, is it included in your weekly fee or will you need to provide cash?
Do they read stories or is it mainly free play?
Some in-home daycares operate much like a preschool with circle times and scheduled activities while others are more free and easy.
27. May I see a sample of a day’s schedule?
Of course, every day will be slightly different but most daycares have a basic schedule that they adhere to every day. Here is the schedule from the home daycare my daughter attended which I think is pretty typical:
7:30-8:30 Daycare opens/free play
8.30-9:15 Morning snack/bathroom
9:15-10:15 Circle time
10:15-11:50 Outdoor play
12:00-1.00 Lunch/bathroom/get ready for sleep time
3:00-3:15 Wake up
3:20-4:00 Snack/get ready for outdoor play
4:00-5:00 Outdoor play
5:00 Daycare closes
28. Do you take the children outside? Where? Walks/backyard?
Do they use strollers or a wagon? Should you provide snow gear and sunscreen to keep at daycare? Ask to see the backyard.
29. Do you drive the children anywhere? Do you have car seats installed? Are they up to date?
Some daycares drive the children to local parks and storytimes. They may ask you to provide the car seats or they may have their own. If you would like your child to be rear-facing, make sure to mention it.
Many people are not comfortable with their children being driven by anyone other than them so make sure to ask this question if it is important to you.
30. Do you let the children have screen time? How much?
What channels do you watch? Do you have iPads or other electronic devices available for the children?
Most daycare providers allow the children to watch TV sometimes during the day, often at pick up and drop off times when it is not possible to do a scheduled activity.
Make sure the childcare provider’s rules and philosophy match with your own when it comes to screen time for your child.
31. How do naps work?
If you have a toddler or child who is transitioning out of naps, this is an important question.
Ask what they do if the child won’t nap. Is there a policy of quiet time for everyone or can older children watch TV instead?
Can a child have an earlier nap if they slept badly the night before? Do they wake them up at a certain time to avoid nighttime issues?
Questions About Daycare Policies
You will likely receive a contract once you sign with a provider but it is worth going through questions to ask a home daycare regarding their policies.
32. Must children be immunized in order to attend?
Some daycare providers will ask to see immunization records and if this is an important issue to you either way, make sure to bring it up at the daycare interview.
33. What is your sick child policy?
How long do children need to stay home after a fever or diarrhea?
If your child gets sick while at daycare, how long do you have to pick them up (some daycares have strict 1-hour policies which can be hard for working parents).
34. What happens if you get sick?
Some in-home daycares have back-up care available in case they need to go to the doctors or are sick. Make sure you know what their policy is so you are not caught unawares with no daycare.
The same goes for the daycare provider’s own children. Does the daycare close if they are home sick?
35. Will you administer medications if necessary?
In addition to meds such as EpiPens, what happens if your child is on a round of antibiotics or ear drops? Will the daycare provider give those medicines to your child?
36. Do you provide breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks? May I see a sample menu?
Ask about visits to places such as McDonald’s or other fast-food restaurants if that is a concern. Will they provide baby food or should you bring purees yourself?
37. Will you accommodate preferences/allergies? eg. almond milk instead of whole milk.
Make sure to bring any allergies up at the daycare interview in case they cannot accommodate them.
38. Will You Help With Potty Training when the time comes?
If you plan on potty training a child in daycare, you need to have the support of your daycare provider. Do they have potties or can you bring one?
Questions To Ask An Infant Daycare Provider
If you have a very young baby and are looking for daycare, here are some specific questions to ask at the daycare interview.
39.Do you use containment devices such as exersaucers and swings? How often?
If you have a young baby, make sure to ask if they let the babies nap in swings or if they are always put down in a crib for a nap.
Containment devices are great for ensuring the baby is safe while the provider runs to the restroom or to answer the door but you want your child to have plenty of time to crawl or roll about too.
40. Do you feed babies on-demand or on a schedule?
If you have your baby on a strict schedule, you may want to make sure that the daycare provider will stick to it. Bear in mind that they are looking after several children and may need to coordinate different nap and feeding schedules.
41. How Do we handle the feeding equipment
Should you send bottles ready-made or will they make them up for you if you are using formula?
42. Where do the children sleep?
Ask to see the sleeping arrangements and ask about items such as sound machines and stuffed animals if your child uses them.
43. What is the nap schedule/routine? Do you do Cry It Out?
Do they let the children sleep as long as they need or is there a set wake-up time?
44. Do you place babies on their back to sleep?
Sounds obvious but a quick search for SIDs deaths shows that many occur at daycares. It’s definitely something to double-check in case the daycare isn’t up on the latest research.
45. Do you supply diapers and wipes? What else should I bring? Will you use cloth diapers?
If you need to provide diapers and wipes, ask if they would prefer a daily diaper bag or just a large box of each dropped off every few months.
Also, ask about sippy cups if your child is using them.
Free Printable Questions To Ask A Home Daycare
For the free printable PDF version of these questions to ask a home daycare, just click below. Good Luck!
Home daycare interview questions
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Thursday 30th of June 2022
Thank you for your advice to ask about their sick child policy. I've been wondering about this now that we're looking to get our son in day care. I'll have to add this to our list for our next few tours.
Tuesday 2nd of April 2019
This is some really good information about finding a good daycare program. It is good to know that you should ask what they will do if your child gets sick. That would be something I would want to know especially if you can't come to pick your child up if they get sick.
Monday 30th of October 2017
I am glad that you have a list of questions that I should keep in mind when it comes to finding a daycare provider for my children. One that you mentioned that I never consider asking is if they would administer medications if it is necessary. This is something that will be great to keep in mind so that if my child has allergies I know they will be taken care of.
Tuesday 11th of April 2017
These are really great questions! It's helpful to have lists like this available because it is so easy to forget somethings ahead of time!
Tuesday 11th of April 2017
These are questions I would have never thought about!! If we ever need a home daycare, I'll definitely refer back to this!!