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Three months, six months, a year - time passes quickly when you are in baby love. Suddenly it is time to return to work, and to place your little one in child care. The decisions involved in finding the right type of child care for your needs can be overwhelming. This guide will help to interview a child care provider.

For the initial interview with a provider, try to schedule a time when you can have someone else watch your child. Going alone to the interview allows you to focus your complete attention on the provider, and the surroundings.

What to look for:

Play room/classroom
In the play area are there a sufficient number of toys? Do they look clean? Are they accessible to children?

Is there a place for children to store personal belongings? Is the children's work displayed on the walls? Is it bright and welcoming?

General
Safety hazards - are outlets covered? Are there any hanging cords? Any heavy furniture such as shelving, that could topple when climbed? Small toys that are accessible to under threes? Are all cupboards locked?

Bathroom/diaper change
Does the bathroom look and smell clean? Are there paper towels for drying hands? Liquid soap?

Are cleaning supplies stored out of reach?

Is the changing table disinfected between use? Is the diaper pail foot operated?

What to ask:

1. How long have you been working as a provider?
2. Are you first aid/CPR certified?
3. What other certification do you have?
4. Do you take continuing education?
5. What type of activities do you do with the children?
6. What are your policies in regard to illness? pick up by person other than parent? late pick up?
7. What type of discipline is used?
8. What would you do in such and such situation, e.g., if a child bites, cuts another child's hair, is
a repeated discipline problem.
9. What do you consider your greatest success as a provider? greatest failure?
10. What do you expect of parents?

Once you have interviewed the provider and are happy, schedule a time that you can visit with your child, and observe how your child interacts with the provider and the other children. The second visit also allows you to ask any questions you may have missed on your first visit. Feel free to ask any questions about subjects that concern you.

Some people are very particular about hygiene and cleanliness; others are concerned about safety procedures. Some people are more interested in the overall program goals. The provider wants you to feel informed and comfortable about her or his program.