How to Find Home-Based Daycare
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How to Find Home-Based Daycare
I am wondering how people get potential daycare providers
to call them back. I am looking for a small home daycare
for my toddler and no one will return my calls or e-mails.
I had this same issue when he was a baby and ended up with
a nanny because they would return my calls. Is it just
me? Do I have to call multiple times? I leave friendly
messages with general information about what I'm looking
for. I'd like to think these daycares are just busy and
not flaky. Is it better to call during non-business hours?
Is there a secret password? I would appreciate any
This seems to be par for the course. When I put my son in
daycare, I called 25 places and got TWO call-backs!
Maybe you can try for referrals? that's what i did for my
second one and got better responses. I assume no call back
means they are full.
I had this problem. I finally drove to the daycares and
knocked on the door and talked to the director and staff.
This ended up being a good idea for a few reasons - I got
to see the place and meet the staff, they got to meet my
child (I took him with me), and if I was in competition
with others for slots I had a leg up because they knew who
The problem is that there are parents out there calling
10-20 daycares -- so every daycare is getting ten times as many
calls as it could handle! If you aren't getting a call back but
for whatever reason, you are really interested in the place, could you
just stop by and ask if there are any openings, and if you could make
an appointment to talk?
I remember having the same frustration. I think bottom line
is they are busy taking care of kids and if they don't have
openings at that time they just won't call you back. Most
daycares seem to just fill spots as they open, unlike
preschools that have waiting lists.
Have you tried working off of the BPN list of daycares that
list that they have openings. Or try Bananas - I ended up
finding my sons daycare through them - they weren't' listed
Honey, any daycare that is not calling you back is not a daycare worth putting
your kind into, no? Use the Childcare Digest to seek references. Call them. The
good ones will call you back. Go in and visit them, look up their license. You
will find a match.
-Listen to your head.
Preschools normally take applications in March for openings
in September, and they fill up. Day Cares usually have
openings from time to time the year 'round, so if it's day
care providers not returning calls, you may well be leaving
a ''red flag'' in your messages, or garbling your phone
number. Ask someone to listen to you leave the message and
help you figure out why they would not want to return the
call. Perhaps you are asking for something unrealistic in
the way of price, hours, potty training?
- hope this helps -
Hi - It's not clear from your post whether you are calling
daycares that you know have openings, or just calling a lot
of daycares hoping to find one with an opening.
If the latter (you are calling daycares and you don't know
if they have openings): Keep in mind that 1) Most daycares
have a small group of children who stay with them for years,
so openings are going to be rare and sporadic. 2) Daycare
providers typically have a 7am to 6pm day with no breaks,
during which they must give 100% of their attention to
babies and small children. It's unlikely they'll be able to
talk to you during the day, and at night they are
prioritizing downtime vs. calling people back to say ''sorry
we don't have any openings.'' If it were me, I would not want
to spend my free time on the phone delivering this message
to however many people called me today looking for openings.
What you need to do is focus on daycares that have openings.
There are so many more daycares right now that have openings
compared to a year or two ago, because of the economy.
During the past two months, the BPN Childcare newsletter's
''Daycares with openings'' section has consistently had more
than 20 postings every week, sometimes as many as 29. Two
years ago it would have been 3 or 4 daycares with openings
every week. So that says to me it's a buyer's market! Check
the Childcare newsletter every week, and also check with
your local childcare referral agency such as Bananas or
CocoKids - there are daycares with openings and they are
looking for you!
If you've already been doing this - only calling/emailing
daycares that you know have an opening, then I would assume
you are contacting them after they have already filled their
openings. Just keep checking every week for new listings and
keep your options open. There are openings out there - don't
I have been having a hard time in scheduling appointments with
some day care centers in Berkeley. I am told by many parents
that they will not run after you, so you have to be insistent
and call them again and again. Well, I have been calling some
centers for 4-5 times and they are still not returning my call.
As anyone who has been through this process would know, there
are so few options that you can not really say, ''I am not
interested in them if they are not calling back'', because there
are only 7 Centers in Berkeley which Bananas gives referral for.
Yes, I understand they are very busy, but so are we, parents
looking for a daycare. Is there a kind way/an etiquette to make
them return your calls? What is a good approach? Should I just
appear at their door to see the center? How many times are you
supposed to call? I am getting into paranoid thoughts that maybe
it is my accent or my name which prevents them from returning my
calls. I am tried of leaving messages and I feel a bit
frustrated. Please help.
Many daycares don't return your calls. I gave up on those that
couldn't call me back after 4-6 calls. I figured they were full
with a long wait list & too busy to bother calling back, and
though I felt similar panic that you feel, keep in mind that a
daycare that doesn't bother to call back (how hard could it be,
really?) is probably run by people who would drive you nuts. I
know it would drive me nuts. There are other daycares out
there. Ask your friends. And none of them are absolutely
perfect, but you will find one that meets your needs.
Do you know if the daycares you are calling actually have
openings? If you don't know, then I'd assume that they don't
have openings, and they are too busy to call you back. You
didn't say if you are looking for a small home-based daycare
or a larger center. If the latter, the more popular ones are
always full and may have long waiting lists. You'd probably
need to first schedule an appointment, then put in your
application, then wait. For the smaller ones that are run
out of peoples' homes, there may only be 3 or 4 children
in the daycare so whether they have openings is all a matter
of timing. One thing you can do is watch the Childcare
newsletter for announcements about openings - usually there
are a couple of them every week. You can post there too.
There are a lot of home-based daycares that have been
reviewed on the BPN website here:
I was fortunate to stay at home with my baby for 1 year. I was
on an unpaid leave of absence but now I have to go back to
work. I have been looking for different options for
childcare. I have read the archives on this issue and most
postings refer to Bananas for questions to ask to home daycare
provider. I went to the web site but cannot find the list of
the questions. Here are the ones I am thinking to ask but
wondering whether I am missing anything.
1-Vacations, holidays, sick days
2-Do I have to commit myself to a specific time such as 1 year.
3-Do you accept drop ins (I prefer they do not)
4-Can I drop by anytime of the day to see my baby.
Also, when you go and see the daycare, what would raise a red
flag for you?
This is my first time and I am very afraid to leave him with
Thanks a lot
I have a pdf file from the National Association of Child Care Resource and
Referral Agencies (www.naccrra) titled ''Is this the right place for my child'' --
38 Research Based Indicators of High Quality Child Care. I'd be happy to share it
with you but cannot attach the document to this response.
I also put my daughter in a home daycare after staying home with her for a year.
I was concerned about health so I looked around to see if the place seemed clean.
I also looked at the outdoor play area to see if it seemed safe and had adequate
space to run around. I brought my child with me to see how the provider reacted
with her--whether they tried to engage her and seemed like they liked children,
In terms of questions, I asked
--what they fed the kids for lunch and snack--and specifically asked if they gave
the kids juice or candy, which more than you think do
--what the schedule
--what time they put the kids down for nap, what time they had snack/lunch,
--how many kids were currently attending the place and their ages,
and up to how many kids they would take
--whether they had any other adults
helping take care of the children and if so could I meet them
--who else was
living in the house and whether they had any other regular visitors during the
hours my kid was going to be there and if so could I meet them
--whether they had
pets (a question I actually did not ask but wish I had)
--whether they let the
kids watch tv, which I did not want, but a lot of places allow
particularly from people who are no longer there since they were more likely to be
candid and have some perspective now that they were elsewhere, even if it's
--whether they took after school kids as I preferred my child to be only
with others close to her age
hope this helps
I'd ask a lot of questions about the kind of schedule they have, the kinds of
activities they do with the kids (do they read to them, do they have them all do
the same things or allow them to choose, do they do art activities...), what they
feed the kids, the philosophy they have about learning and what is good for kids,
how they discipline the kids, and so on.
And, not a red flag, but something that happened to me in the interview of the
person I chose as my daycare provider: Every comment she made was about what was
or was not good for my child. Nothing was about her, nothing was about my
schedule --everything was about what was good for him. I chose her. It's one of
the best choices I ever made. Karen
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