Questions to Ask a Childcare Provider

Having relocated twice and never living less than one hour from extended family, my husband and I have always had to rely on strangers to provide for our childcare needs. We have found sitters through acquaintances, daycares, and more recently we braved the online platforms. Whether sourcing childcare providers through friends/acquaintances or through the Internet, it is important to screen your candidates thoroughly to ensure you are making the right choice for your children. Consider these questions to ask a childcare provider.

Interview a potential childcare provider with a thorough list of questions.Basic Questions

These questions to ask a childcare provider are not revolutionary, but it is best to assume nothing when it comes to screening potential childcare providers. It can feel silly, but you’ll definitely want to know the answers to these questions — especially when screening candidates found through Internet platforms instead of mutual friends.

  • Do you have current CPR and first-aid certifications?
  • How many years of experience do you have in childcare?
  • In what settings have you provided childcare? For how many children at a time?
  • Do you have reliable transportation?
  • What is your discipline style? Are you willing to adapt to our family’s discipline?
  • Why do you want to babysit/nanny?
  • Are you willing to submit to a background check?
  • What has been your proudest moment as a childcare professional?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What activities do you enjoy participating in with children?

kid playing with tablet

Scenario Questions

Scenario questions provide answers that indicate past behaviors rather than have someone speculate about a hypothetical situation. Past behavior is a fairly reliable predictor of future behavior. These are a few of my favorite scenario questions.

  • Tell me about a time when your discipline style conflicted with the parents’ style. How did you handle that?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake when caring for a child and what you learned from that situation.
  • Tell me about a time when a child repeatedly refused to follow instructions to complete a non-negotiable task. How did you respond?
  • Tell me about a time you were proud of a child. How did you convey that to the child?
  • Please describe a typical schedule for an afternoon when you are babysitting.

Questions Specific to Your Child

You know your child better than anyone else does. Be sure to tailor questions to your child’s specific needs. Does your child have special needs? Challenging behaviors? Allergies that require a special diet? Is your child potty training? Will your babysitter be caring for an infant? If so, or for any other unusual situation, ask questions about the caregiver’s experience in these areas. Here are a few examples of questions that target individualized circumstances:

  • Have you ever cared for children who have experienced trauma?
  • What behaviors trigger you? (Or turn this into a scenario question: Tell me about a time when you were triggered by a child’s behavior and how you responded.)
  • What are your expectations for a child this age? (A great question if you have a child whose developmental age does not match his actual age.)
  • Are you familiar with safe sleep recommendations for babies?
  • Ask specific questions when interviewing for a childcare provider.

What are your go-to questions when screening a potential childcare provider?

Nikki is a native Texan, originally from Cypress. After marrying her husband, Randall, and being convinced to move to the arctic (just kidding -- Michigan) for a few years, she is excited to be back in Texas thawing out and learning her way around Fort Worth! In 2015, Nikki and Randall decided to become foster parents, and she is now a stay-at-home mom to foster children, as well as long-distance stepmom to a teenage boy. She has been 'Mom' to six kids and counting, always wondering what (or who) the future will bring!


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