The child care provider questions during the initial family tour and interview are every bit as important as the questions parents are asking. You should be asking questions to ensure the family would be a good fit for your program. Listen carefully to the answers and ask follow-up questions if necessary. You want to get as much information as possible so you're able to make an informed decision about the family. Here are some samples to get you started.
Has your child been in care before?
If yes, for how long? Why was care terminated? Do they have a problem with you contacting the former caregiver? (Pay close attention when asking this question; some parents may jump from provider to provider, usually owing money to several caregivers.) If no, who has been the primary caretaker for the child? If the child has primarily been at home with a parent, especially in the case of an only child, you may want to ask if the child has been a part of other groups, such as sports, classes, play dates, etc. This is an important question because a child who hasn't had opportunities to be social may have a little harder time adjusting to a child care situation. This doesn't mean you shouldn't accept the child, it's just helpful to know in advance.
How long do you expect to be needing child care?
Answers will vary, but you can get a rough time frame instead of being surprised down the road.
Does your child have any known health issues?
This is something you should know up front so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you're capable of handling the situation.
Does your child have any special needs (religious, food allergies, etc.)?
Most often, parents will tell you right away, but you don't want to be caught off-guard later.
Are you (or a designated person) able to pick up the child in case of an accident or emergency?
It's important that you're able to contact parents and know that they'll pick up a child at your request, so make sure to find out if this will be a problem.
What's your child interested in?
This is a question that can be directed toward the child during the interview. Do they like board games, baby dolls, toy cars, sports, etc.? This helps you to know if you have the appropriate items to keep the child entertained, or if they share an interest with another child in your care.
What type of eater is your child?
Is the child a heavy eater or on the picky side? What are the child's favorite foods? Least favorite? If they're old enough, this is another question that can be directed toward the child.
What type of sleep schedule does the child have?
Does the child take regular naps? If so, what approximate times? Does the child have a regular bedtime or is the child allowed to simply stay up until they fall asleep? Realize that children without regular sleep schedules may be fussy and uncooperative during the day.
Does your child have any behavioral problems?
Some parents will tell you there are no problems, when in fact, there are. Other parents will downplay an issue. Thankfully, most parents will tell the truth.
What are your expectations of a child care provider?
This is one of the more interesting provider questions. The answers will be as varied as the parents. Some possible answers may be home safety precautions, treating the child as a parent would or teaching the child basic concepts like colors and numbers.
Do you have backup care?
If you don't provide this, make sure the parents are aware of your policies right away.
Are you willing to sign a contract?
Because you're a professional child care provider with a business, it's important that you treat it as such. You may want to have signed contracts with everyone you're providing care for. Some parents will balk at the idea of being locked-in to child care, but it's a good way to protect yourself.