1) Is the home daycare licensed by the state of Colorado? This is extremely important to the welfare and safety of your child. In Colorado, background checks with both the state and FBI are performed prior to receiving approval for a license. Licensed providers receive lots of training before obtaining their license. Their houses and grounds are inspected annually. They are often registered with a food program, such as Wildwood Child and Adult Care Food Program. These programs regulate and monitor the day cares to ensure that your child is fed according to the latest USDA requirements and provides ongoing training regarding these requirements for the providers.
2) What are the hours, fees, & availability? There is no state regulation regarding the hours or fees for a home daycare. They vary from home to home.
3) How many children are in care & what are their ages? Most home day cares are allowed a limit of 8 children. Only 2 under the age of 2 are allowed in care at any given time. This is an important question, especially if you are searching for care for an infant. 1 adult caring for 2 infants can be extremely challenging. Caring for 2 infants plus up to 6 other kids of different ages adds a whole new level of challenge. Therefore, the mix of ages is up to the providers’ discretion. For example: your provider may have a 7 month old and an 18 month old; a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and two 4 year olds. She may also have 1 school-age child. As long as she has no more than 8 kids at any time and not more that 2 under 2, she is within regulations.
4) Does the provider have any pets? Lots of families have pets and most daycare providers are no different. Per CO state regulations, all animals must be current on their vaccinations and your provider must be able to provide proof of this. If the animal is not good with children or is a bird, it must be confined away from children during business hours. This question is especially important if you or your child have any pet related allergies.
5) What is the provider’s vacation policy? Snow days happen. Schools have spring break. Parents want to take vacations during the summer. Naturally, if your child is not there, you don’t want to pay for daycare if you don’t have to. However, please remember that this is your providers’ job. You would not want your employer to stop paying you because you had a sick day or took your allotted vacation time. Daycare providers usually feel the same. They usually cannot afford to allow you to take a month off without paying. Therefore, do not expect your provider to hold your spot if you are not willing to pay for it. Speak to your provider during the interview to ascertain their policy regarding time off, review their handbook to verify the policy, and if any alternative arrangements are made, try to get an agreement in writing.
All of the current daycare regulations for the state of Colorado are always available as a parent or provider resource at: www.cdhs.state.co/childcare/Licensing_home.htm