What do you need to know about your child's new daycare program? Whether this is your child's first time in care or your family recently switched to a new school, take a look at the important questions that you might not have thought to ask during an initial child care center interview or center tour.
Does the Center Provide Meals and Snacks?
Will you need to pack a lunch for your child, or will the child care facility provide it? If the center's services include lunches and snacks, the next step is to ask about the menu—especially if your child has food allergies, intolerances, or is a selective eater.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight percent of children have a food allergy. If your child is one of the many who has a potentially life-threatening reaction to foods such as nuts or dairy, you will need to know what the school serves and how meals/snacks are served.
Not only will you need to make sure your child doesn't eat anything they shouldn't, but you should also verify that your child won't come into contact with an allergen. Family-style meals and snacks that are left on the lunchtime tables could pose a problem for your child.
Along with allergens, you may also want to know whether the lunches/snacks are foods that your child will eat. Some child care centers may allow parents to send their own packed lunches and snacks as a substitute for meals that their children refuse to eat.
What Is the Pickup Policy?
Are there days when you can't pick your child up from care? If you (or another custodial parent) can't get to school on time for pickup, you will need to follow the center's permission policies. Ask the director or your child's new teacher for more information on how someone else can pick up your child from daycare. You may need to fill out a special form or provide written notice ahead of time. The person who is picking up your child may also need to show the center staff a valid photo identification card.
What Is Your Sick Child Policy?
The pandemic changed the way many centers handle illness. While most schools temporarily enacted an extremely strict sick child policy during the height of the pandemic, some have loosened the guidelines and returned to pre-pandemic rules. Many centers still require children with COVID-19 infections to follow the CDC's guidelines for quarantine and masking.
Children who are sick with other viruses and bacterial infections will also still need to follow the school's rules. The center may want you to keep your child home for at least 24 hours after a fever breaks, your child stops vomiting, or they start taking an antibiotic (for bacterial infections).
For more information, reach out to a child care center.