10 questions parents should be asking on a day care tour [Durham Daycarers]

An infant sleeps on her mother, while the mother holds a clipboard

This week, reader Jennifer from Ajax submitted a question for the Durham Daycarers team asking for advice on the best questions to ask on a day care tour. Dianne, a licensed day care supervisor and Demi, a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) answered this question, with questions that they believe more parents should be using when selecting a centre for their child.

  1. How often is this centre inspected? Licenced centres must be inspected yearly to qualify for licensing. In addition to this, centres are inspected by the Durham Region Health Department twice a year to ensure they meet health and safety requirements. Qualified supervisors and staff should know this if they are licensed. If a centre mentions anything less than this, do your research to find out if that centre really is licensed.
  2. Are all staff trained in first aid and CPR? Safety always comes first when working with children, and it’s important that staff, irrespective of their level at a centre, feel confident in their ability to respond to a need for first aid or CPR.
  3. How often are toys cleaned? This question is particularly important at centres that cater to infants because children are using their mouths so much to explore their world. A licenced centre should be cleaning their toys daily.
  4. How often is the yard checked by staff? All licensed day cares are required to do daily checks of their outdoor play spaces to ensure no foreign and dangerous materials have found their way into the yard. Centres in high traffic areas close to busy streets need to be particularly sensitive to this.
  5. Do all staff have Food Handling certifications? Even in centres where food is catered offsite by an external company, staff are required to distribute snacks to children that are in their care. Becoming certified is not a difficult course to take as a staff member, but it can go a long way in keeping everyone healthy. Look for a centre that requires that all staff have been appropriately trained.
  6. Can I see your last Licensing Inspection Summary? A Licensing Inspection Summary is a one page summary of how a centre performed in numerous categories including Staff, Nutrition and Records. These summaries are typically on display for parents to see. Any large gaps that you notice are worth investigating for more information. Centre staff should be honest about what happened and how they plan to improve on this measure in the future.
  7. Can you provide a health department inspection certificate for your caterer? Even if food is made offsite, licensed centres must be able to provide proof of Food Handling certifications for catering staff and proof that the caterer has passed Health and Safety inspections at their kitchen. “Staff should be forthcoming with this information and able to follow up for you”, says Demi.
  8. What policies does your centre have for sick children? Colds, coughs and fevers are common in day cares as children are building their immunity. What many parents don’t ask about are the implications for childcare when handling sick children. Depending on the symptoms, some children may be required to stay home for a full 24 hours before returning to their centre. As a parent it’s important to save a few vacation days (if you are returning to work) to make sure you are covered.
  9. What is your staff-to-child ratio? This varies across age groups but the rules are standard across licensed centres. In an infant room, expect to find 1 staff for every 3 children, 1 staff for every 5 children for toddler and 1 staff for every 8 children in preschool.
  10. How are children disciplined? Disciplinary style will reveal a lot about how a classroom is managed by the staff. Discipline is also an important consideration for parents as some styles work better for children than others. Make sure you ask staff to back up their claims with examples of how they’ve managed negative behaviours in the past.
Readers, we love to hear from you. What have you always wanted to ask someone working at a centre?
Leave a comment on the blog, write us an email or send a message on Facebook with questions that you want answered. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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