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Questions Parents
Should Ask and What To
Look for in a Provider

Provider Background

  • What is the experience, training, and qualifications of the childcare provider?
  • Is the provider regulated? (County Certified-Provisional/Regular, State Licensed or Group Center)
  • Is the Provider trained in CPR/AED or early childhood education?
  • Is the Provider tuned in to what is going on in childcare (nutrition, child development, needs of children, positive behavior guidance)?
  • Are there names and numbers for reference checks?
  • Does the provider use additional caregivers, substitutes, or volunteers?
  • Who arranges back-up care if the provider is unavailable? Do they have an ER contact person listed for emergency situations?
  • Will the same provider and/or staff member care for my child everyday?
  • What is the turnover rate of children and staff?
  • Does the provider carry renter or home liability insurance? (This is not required for in-home certified providers, but is strongly suggested).
  • What are the ages and maximum number of children in care?
  • How long has the provider been in business?
  • How long does the provider plan to remain in the childcare business?
  • Does the provider have full-time and/or part-time enrollment?

Business Policies

  • What are the daycare fees?
  • Do I pay in cash or by check?
  • Do I pay in advance or at the end of the week?
  • Is the fee fixed or flexible?
  • Do I pay for overtime if I pick my child up late?
  • Do I pay for days my child is on vacation or sick?
  • Do I pay for the provider’s sick days/vacation days?
  • Does the provider provide transportation to/from the local school?
  • What are the hours of operation?
  • Do the hours/fee change during summer months?
  • Is childcare available on school holidays?
  • When will my child not be allowed to attend childcare (due to sickness)?
  • Is there space to isolate sick children?
  • What are the policies regarding emergencies?
  • What is the policy on terminating care of a child?

Parent Involvement

  • May I observe the program before and after enrollment?
  • Are surprise visits by parents encouraged?
  • May I partake in activities (birthday parties, picnics, and fieldtrips)?
  • Are parent ideas welcome?
  • Are there ways for parents to get involved in the childcare program?

Space and Safety

  • Is there adequate indoor and outdoor space?
  • Are all areas of the home clean?
  • Where do the children nap/sleep?
  • Does the provider have adequate items (high chairs, baby gates, cribs, pack/plays, toys)?
  • Is the home safe for children (stairways protected, outlets covered, and poisons out of reach)?
  • Is the outdoor play area safe?
  • Is it fenced?
  • Can the provider see the whole area of the yard at all times?
  • What kind of play equipment is available?
  • Can my child bring toys from home (special toy, security blanket)?
  • Do caregivers always wash hands after diaper changes, blowing noses, and before handling food?
  • Are medications handled safely?

Daily Activities

  • What is the typical day like for the children?
  • Will I receive a daily report on my child and his/her activities?
  • Does the daily schedule allow for free time and planned activities?
  • Is there a daily balance of playtime, story time, activity time, and naptime?
  • Where are these activities located?
  • Where is the sleeping area?
  • Where are children allowed to play in the house?
  • Is there a comfortable and restful area for naps?
  • Is there sufficient quite times?
  • Are there outdoor and indoor activities?
  • Does the provider plan activities like nature walks, bus rides or field trips? (The provider must receive your permission in writing to do these things with the children.)
  • How are children transported?
  • Do they have a child vehicle safety alarm installed in the car (Required for six-passenger seats or more)?
  • What are the limits on watching TV?
  • Are there music experiences?
  • Are activities appropriate for my child’s age/ability?
  • Are there enough play and educational materials?
  • Are they within my child’s reach?
  • Does the program keep up with the children’s changing interests?

Special Needs

  • Will the provider be able to meet my child’s special needs? (Nutritional, medical, developmental, cultural, religious needs).
  • What are the children fed during the day?
  • Does the provider have a planned menu to view each week or month?
  • Does the provider participate in the USDA Food Program?
  • Do I have to pack meals or a snack?
  • Can my child maintain a special diet in this childcare program?
  • Is the food balanced, varied, and nutritious?
  • Which meals are provided?
  • What time are snacks/meals provided?
  • What will the provider do if my child does not like a meal?
  • Would anything in the surroundings irritate a child with allergies? (Food, animals, dust, etc.)
  • Does the provider have any pets within the home?
  • Is the pet up to date with rabies vaccinations?

Behavior Management

  • How will my child be disciplined? (Physical discipline and/or shaming is not allowed)
  • Does the provider agree with me on what behaviors should be disciplined (and how)?
  • Are limits clear, reasonable, and consistent?
  • Can the provider positively redirect children?
  • Is positive reinforcement used?

The Provider

  • What is the provider’s personality? (cheerful, flexible, patient, understanding, relaxed, warm)
  • Does the provider take good care of herself/himself?
  • Will the provider always be ready to answer my questions?
  • Is the provider a suitable role model?
  • Does the provider seem to enjoy children?
  • Does the provider and the children enjoy being together?
  • Does the provider have age-appropriate expectations?
  • Does the provider listen to children, rather than simply give directions/corrections?
  • Does the provider treat each child as individuals, with dignity and respect?
  • Does the provider get down to the child’s level and speak to the child directly?
  • Does the provider smile, look at, talk to, and listen to the individual children?
  • Does the provider greet and welcome the children when they arrive?
  • Are the children’s needs met quickly, even when things get busy?
  • Are the children comforted when necessary?
  • What does the provider do when a child cries?
  • Is the provider sensitive to the emotional needs of children?
  • Does the provider encourage identifying emotions?
  • Does the provider encourage sharing?
  • What would the provider do if a child bites?
  • Does the provider encourage sensitivity to others?
  • Does the provider encourage independence, exploring, and creativity?
  • Does the provider help children gain confidence in themselves? (Example: compliment them when they do a good job).

The Child Care

  • Are the other children in the home happy and relaxed?
  • How do the children interact with each other?
  • Is the childcare program and the provider accepting/responsive to the varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds of children and families?
  • Are a variety of backgrounds (cultures, ethnicities, genders, ages) evident in pictures and toys?
  • Is the provider respectful of my family’s lifestyle and values?


  • What approach will be used with toilet training (timing, wording, method)?
  • Does the provider or any household members smoke? (not allowed during childcare hours in the home OR on the dwelling/property).
  • What is expected of me as a parent? (fees, clothing, diapers, food)
  • Are the goals of this program compatible with mine?

Some things to keep in mind while at the childcare program

  • What are my instincts telling me?
  • Is this the kind of place where I would like to hang out with my child?
  • Will my child/children be happy here?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Waukesha County Certification Staff.

Jennifer Mantei, Day Care Certifier 262-548-7250
Beth Treder, Day Care Certifier 262-548-7897
Karen Narlow, Day Care Coordinator 262-970-4795

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