4 Questions a Dad of a Child with Autism Asks Daycare Centers

I am pleased to introduce Alex Robbins as a guest blogger today. As part of the Safety Today team, Mr. Robbins promotes home and community safety through his writing.

by Alex Robbins

A box of crayonsChoosing a daycare poses challenges for families on many levels. As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I had to use a bit of a different approach in seeking the best option for our family. It was not an easy process.

With any family there can be a guilt factor of leaving your child with strangers. You want to feel comfortable and at ease leaving your child at all. And it’s equally important that your child is comfortable and at ease, in addition to having the proper care and safety. This process becomes even more difficult when your child has special needs. If I had known then what I know now, it would have made a huge difference.

When touring a potential daycare center for your child, it’s best to think of yourself as a detective — one who needs to ask all the right questions to get a full understanding of the situation. In order to figure out if your child is going to be safe and successful, you need to do a little digging. Here are four essential questions you must ask any place you’re considering sending your child:

  1. What are your accreditation? All daycare centers must display the proper certifications — state licensing, first aid, CPR, etc. Accreditation is not a mandatory thing in most states, but you may want to make sure that the daycare center has been checked out and inspected by a reputable organization.
  2. How do you select your staff? It’s important that you know exactly how the staff is selected — how much experience is required to work there, if certain licenses are mandatory, etc. You should ask about criminal background checks as well. Not only that, but you should ask about the business’ staffing history. Is there a high turnover rate? That is, do people that work there stay there for very long? Inquire about the staff to child ratio. If there are only a couple staff members tasked with handling dozens of kids, it should throw up a huge red flag.
  3. Can I meet your staff? Don’t be afraid to ask to meet any and all staff that may come into contact with your child. If the daycare center is wary of arranging such meetings, be wary of their practices.
  4. Do you have an open-door policy? This one is pretty simple. Does the daycare center allow unannounced visits by parents, or do they make you call ahead to come in? If a daycare center doesn’t want you to drop by without warning, they might have something to hide. You should look for a center that has an open door policy.
  5. Can I see the daily curriculum? Presumably, you want your child to do more than eat snacks and nap while at daycare. You want your child to be mentally and physically engaged. This is why you must ask to see the center’s daily curriculum. You want to know how the daycare center is structuring your child’s day, from what activities are planned to how much time is devoted to learning vs. play. You may also want to ask to see past schedules, to make sure that the daycare center is active enough to change their schedule as the years pass. You don’t want to send your child to a stagnant program that hasn’t updated its curriculum in a decade.

Asking a lot of questions of a daycare staff is not rude or imposing — on the contrary, it’s necessary for any caring parent. If the center you’re touring has a problem answering your questions — by either being unwilling or unable — you might want to look elsewhere.

Are you looking for a daycare center for your child? Contact your local Easterseals to find out more!


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

  1. Skylar Williams Says:

    I like your tip to ask if you can meet the staff of the daycare center before choosing one. My wife and I are going back to work now that our leave has ended and we need to find a daycare center for our child. I’ll be sure to ask the prospects these questions.

  2. My Goetter Says:

    My son is autistic. When Joey (12)sees a horse they calm him. Do you have a summer program where we could try riding a horse? Thanks, Mary Goetter