Tips For Interviewing Families In Home Child Care

1) Conduct the interview in the off hours, either the weekend or the evening when both parents and the child(ren) can be present, and you have more time to relax and prepare for the interview. After the initial interview, suggest that the parents visit your facility during the day when the children are present to see how you operate and to allow their child to get to know the other children. Encourage them to visit a few times if necessary.

2) Have your family present for a portion of the interview. This will allow you to see how well the children interact, to see how the family interacts with your child(ren), and to allow them to meet everyone in your household who may be present when their child is in your care.

3) Have your materials nicely packaged in a presentation folder and ready to give to the parents. Take time to go over each form. This should include a copy of your:

    * Business Card and Brochure/Flyer
    * Welcome Letter
    * Parent Handbook
    * Policy Manual
    * Registration Form
    * Child Development Form
    * Permission Slips
    * Injury Reports
    * Food Program Forms (if applicable)
    * Daily Infant Activity Sheet (if applicable)
    * Medical Information Form
    * Testimonials or letters from the parents and the children are a nice touch.
    * Any other forms you use and need to go over with the parents.

4) Have your training certificates, CPR certification, license, membership registrations or other professional documentation either displayed so the parents can see them, or in a nice portfolio so you can go through them with the parents. This helps validate your background and experience.

5) Have your Interview Checklist available so you can refer to it as you go through the interview. This helps you check things off so you don't miss any important information you want to parley to, or gather from, the parents. It also helps you to take notes during the interview, which you'll need as you make your decision whether or not you can build a quality working relationship with the family.

6) Don't just sip tea and visit at the kitchen table. Take the parents on a complete tour of your facility, showing them every area of your home their child will use. Try not to rush through the tour. Talk about the activities you do with the children, how you arrange for their naps, and so on. Encourage parents to ask questions as you go along. When your done your tour, take the parents back to the meeting area giving them an opportunity to ask questions and take notes.

7) Never sign a contract with the parents on the spot. You both need time to reflect on the interview. Ask yourself if you feel you can work with this family. If the children seemed to get along. If the parents were on time for their interview. If they winced at your rates. If they seem to jump from one child care facility to another. The answers to your questions could be an indication of things to come. If the parents wander from child care provider to child care provider, they could be either hard to get along with or renege on payment and therefore are constantly on the run. Late for the interview could indicate a lack of respect for you and could end up being how they treat your relationship.

Instead, encourage the parents to take your information packet home and read through it. This gives them more time to thoroughly examine the policies and to discuss their feelings about the interview.

8) Reserve your Child Care Contract until the parents indicate they would like to use your services. Your Parent Handbook/Policy Manual covers everything concerning your policies and operations. This is enough to go over for one night. When the parents come to sign the contract, you can go over each clause in your contract in detail, referring to the manual if need by, and reinforcing the information the parents were given.

9) If you do decide this is a family you'd enjoy working with, get your fees upfront, especially your two week advance. Then make sure they are aware of your two week trial period. This will give you enough time to ensure the child will fit in with your group and that the parents are easy to get along with. It also gives both parties an opportunity to terminate the care with no ill feelings or obligations.

10) Do a background check on the family. If they have used child care before, find out who they used and get the phone number of the caregiver or facility. If the parents can't give you the information during the interview, ask them to call you the next day, or offer to make the call yourself. Then follow up. Call the previous daycare and ask why the parents left, if there were any difficulties with the family or the child that you should know about. Did they pay on time? Did they pick their child up on time? What was the previous caregiver's overall impression of the family? Was she sad to see them go? The more you know, the better you can feel about your decision to say yes to the family if they decide to hire you, or to turn them down if you just don't feel there is a match. It's okay to say no.