Finding affordable childcare is a must for households that rely on incomes from both parents. In some places, childcare can be very expensive; the more children you have, the higher the costs climb. In addition to be concerned about hourly, daily and weekly rates, different childcare centers may also take different approaches to providing supervision and activities for children. Some may place more emphasis on cooperative games or outdoor activities, while others may be purely supervisory. Parents must take time to learn about various centers and ask any important questions before making any kind of agreement. At the same time, many childcare facilities have limited space, so you can't wait too long if you find a place that you actually like.

Is there someplace separate for sick children where they won't infect other kids?

Kids get sick all the time, and you want to be sure that wherever your child will be spending time has the infrastructure in place to quarantine those who are ill.

Can parents send children to childcare with their own foods and snacks?

Some centers provide snacks and meals, and others do not. You can sometimes save money by opting out of meal services and providing your child's food.

Do any of your child's friends go to nearby daycare centers?

You can maybe carpool if you know someone else who uses the same childcare provider.

Do children have access to computers and the Internet?

Some parents don't mind their kids being on the Internet, but for others, it's a big deal. Another issue is what kind of supervision there is for children who are allowed to be on the Internet while at daycare.

What is your discipline policy?

You want to make sure the discipline policy of your child's daycare center is in line with your own beliefs. This isn't just important for the development of your child, but also to help make sure that your child won't be bullied or picked on by other kids. When talking with childcare staff members about this, be sure to provide various "what if" scenarios to get specific answers about how they'd handle different situations.

How do you handle separation anxiety?

It's very normal for kids to feel nervous or upset after being away from their parents, especially when they're very young. What does each child care staff do to handle this separation anxiety?

What is the holiday schedule?

Daycare centers tend to be closed for the major holidays, but different centers may be open for other holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, when only some businesses are closed. Depending on your job, you may want to make sure your daycare center will be open on the holidays when you still need to work.

How many staff members are working at a time?

The number of people on duty will determine how good of supervision each child gets. You may want to think twice about leaving your child at a large daycare center with just a couple of people working, but everything is situational, which is why you should ask about this ahead of time.

What are the educational and employment backgrounds of the center's teachers and staff members?

Who is in charge at the daycare center? How much experience do these people have in dealing with children, and in what kind of capacity? Asking for credentials of the people who are in charge can help with your decision in finding the best daycare for your child.