Ask Yourself These Questions Before Choosing Child Care

Are you ready to go back to work? Whether your job is 100 percent remote or you need to go into the office, you need someone to watch your toddler during work-day hours. If you're not sure what you want, need, or should have in a child care center, take a look at the questions to ask right now.

When Will Your Job Start?

Some centers don't have immediate openings. If you'll return to work in the next few weeks, you may have limited daycare choices. Before you fall in love with an early childhood center, ask the director if they have space for your child.

Even though it might seem like the immediate need for daycare could limit your center search, you still have options. If the perfect choice for child has a waitlist, consider other temporary options. Hire a sitter for a few months or ask a relative (such as a grandparent) to watch your toddler. These alternatives offer the care and supervision your child needs while you're at work—minus the commitment to a center that isn't at the top of your list.

Do You Need Part- or Full-Time Care?

How many hours or days will you work? If you won't work all five weekdays, ask the center director about the part-time care options. A part-time daycare schedule may save you money. But this doesn't necessarily mean you'll pay less if your child only goes to the center for the mornings or afternoons.

While you may think of part-time as anything less than a full five days each week, the center may define it differently. Discuss what the school or program considers part-time and what the rate differences are between the different schedule options.

Will You Have Time to Make Lunches and Snacks?

The first few days, weeks, or even months back to work as a new parent come with challenges. The early morning before-school/before-work rush may not leave much time for you to pack a healthy lunch or snacks for your toddler. Cut your to-do list down and ask the center's director if they provide lunch or snacks for the students. If they do, make sure the options match your child's nutrition needs or food allergies/sensitivities.

What Else Is Important to You?

Every parent has different wants or needs for their child's care. Write a list of what you expect from a daycare center. Your list could include anything from the staff qualifications and the adult-to-child ratio in each room to specific activities. Organize your list by categories or rank each point by importance.