Guest Post: How to Find a Daycare in Northern Nevada | Carson Tahoe Health

Guest Post: How to Find a Daycare in Northern Nevada

We’re thrilled that Lauren Sunderland from the blog, The Reno Sparks Mom stopped by to share her tips to finding a daycare in northern Nevada!

Take it away, Lauren!

My daughter is two years old and she has been in and out of four different daycares. Some were great experiences that we were terribly sad to see end, while others were terrible experiences that left us running as quick as we could in the opposite direction. Whatever the reason, we’ve found ourselves in search of a daycare numerous times and each time were frustrated with the lack of resources tailored to our area.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that finding a daycare is difficult and I’d like to do anything I can to help lessen that burden on fellow parents.

Below are helpful tips on the best resources and process to help you confidently find a daycare.

Find Available Daycares

First you need to find available daycares. This is best done by doing your research. These are the best places I’ve found to yield the most results:

1.     Nevada Department of Health and Human Services

The best place to start is from a list of licensed providers and the best place to find that would be from the agency in charge of the licensing. For Carson City that agency would be the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. From their child care licensing page you can click on “List of Child Care Facilities Licensed by HCQC.” Just go down and call, call, call asking about any openings. Call the social workers at (775) 684-4463, they can be extremely helpful.

2.     Craigslist

I am extremely weary when looking on craigslist. A few rules I follow when looking for daycares in craigslist are:

  • Prices. If it seems too cheap to be true, it is. The average price of daycare in our area is $35 per day, and that should include meals. Anything below $150 is suspect, and below $100 isn’t worth looking at.
  • Spelling and grammar. If there is a single typo in the entire ad, I will not contact them.
  • Photos. They tell the entire story. It’s too easy nowadays to take a photo and upload it to the internet. There’s really no excuse for crappy quality photos of a house that looks like a prison.
  • Always look for a licensed daycare.

3.     In Home Child Care Providers of Nevada Facebook Group

There is also a new Facebook community called In Home Child Care Providers of Nevada. Post on their wall with a request that you are in need of care and they are very helpful with giving you referrals for openings.

Call and Ask

Now that you’ve got your options, get comfortable with that phone and ready to have some of the weirdest conversations of your entire life. Daycare providers are some of the most unprofessional people I have ever met. Everyone answers their phone defensively, which I can never get used to.

Here’s a rule we’ve come to learn to follow: if any part of the conversation was weird, write them off. Any hint of discomfort you may have felt is not just you. Trust me on this one. When you show up to their house, it will all come together and make sense why you initially felt that way over the phone.

The initial phone calls should be short and sweet, something most daycare providers are unfamiliar with. If you don’t cut them off you will be on the phone for 30 minutes listening to recounts of their lives, their customer’s lives and whoever else they may have seen in the past week.

You just need to know if they have a spot available, let them know your hours, and don’t forget to ask about rates and setup a time to meet.

The best time to meet is during their business hours. Most daycares prefer to meet you during naptime as it is more convenient for them to give you the attention you’re asking for during an interview. But really, you want to see them interacting with the children over you. Nap time doesn’t allow this to happen. You also want to pop in, so you get to see the reality, not just the “show” they’re putting on for you as a potential customer. We like to give a general time and I know, if you are a daycare provider this is probably totally annoying, but we pop in a few minutes early. This is actually interesting as some people become very apologetic for their unpreparedness while the ones who could care less about what time you arrive are typically the ones who are confident and who you’re looking for.


You’ve called the long list of daycares and weeded out who is available, affordable and not 100% crazy. Now it’s time to drop by and do an interview. This is the most important thing you will do in your search for a daycare.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s an interview process and should be treated as such.  Also, hit up google and search for some questions to ask daycares. A few of our favorites are:

  • “How do you treat the children when they misbehave?” – we’re looking for re-direction, which one of 10 daycares we interviewed answered correctly.
  • “What’s your experience/education?”
  • “Is it typical to not soothe a crying child like the one being left alone over there?” – my husband seriously asked this question at the daycare we wound up hating. The answer was, “oh, that’s just so and so, she always cries.” We should’ve known then.
  • “How much TV do they watch?”
  • “How do you deal with a child who won’t nap?”


Familiarize Yourself With The Regulations

The Washoe County Licensing Regulations is a good place to familiarize yourself with. You should really rely on licensed childcare facilities only. It costs $60 to license a daycare and while it does take quite a bit of effort, it shows a lot about the people you’re investing in.

The main point I can emphasize about interviewing daycare providers is that you don’t need to be shy. It feels odd grilling a person while you’re in their home, but it needs to be done. Ask ask and then ask some more.

After you leave, assess what you just saw and don’t discount anything that bugged you. For instance, we went on an interview this past week and a few things that concerned us were:

  • Dogs- One who had blood on his upper lip from fighting with the other.
  • The baby gate to the stairs was left open the entire time we were there

Now, these are small things that we wouldn’t automatically write someone off about. However, after more thought, these small things add up to a bigger picture to reveal more things we were uncomfortable with.

Follow Up

You’ve researched, called and interviewed prospective daycares and finally decided on someone you feel confident will care for your child.

If they’re licensed, which I would highly advise you stick with licensed daycare providers, you’ll want to check up on their stats. Call the Bureau of Healthy Care Quality and Compliance at (775) 684-4463 and ask about the specific daycare’s licensing information.

What we’ve found when checking the licenses is that it either confirms any suspicions we’ve had or solidifies our decision. Also, it’s always a little scary taking someone’s word for it when they say they’re licensed. Before we knew we could check up on people’s licensing and inspections we just took their word for it, never seeing a license or having any idea what’s required to be licensed.

It’s not a bad idea to double check and make sure the person you’re paying a fraction of your income and trusting your first-born to is doing what they say they are.

Check and double-check again. Take advantage of this service, it’s been put in place for a reason.

Trust Yourself

At the end of the day, listen to your heart. If anything made you uncomfortable, listen to that feeling, as it’s almost always going to be correct.

Please note that this is post is tailored for the Carson City area, for information for Reno and Sparks, you can visit here for more information.

About Lauren:

Lauren Sunderland, a graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, is a freelance writer, wife and mother to a curly headed 2-year-old. She writes about her experience as a mother, baking the perfect cupcake and crafting at The Reno-Sparks Mom.