September 12, 2012

How to Find a Daycare in Reno/Sparks Step 1 Printable

We are back on the search for a daycare for Gwyneth. Don’t worry, there’s no dramatic story of child abuse or neglect here. They’re just closing their daycare for their family and we have two weeks notice and no references. This can be a frustrating part of choosing in home daycare providers. They can close their doors when they see fit, seeing as it's their home and their business. Such is life.

I’ve been meaning to put together a post of helpful resources for finding a daycare in our area, and have been truly dragging my feet with it. So as I go along, back into the process of finding that gem of a daycare , I’m going to bring you along with me.

We have ruled out daycare centers after our really shitty experience at Happy Days Preschool off of Pyramid Highway. We have successfully found two in-home daycares that we have all been happy with and have decided they are our preference.

Get your frustrated hat on and let’s go!

In today's world, in home daycares very rarely have a website, which sucks and makes the process a little more time consuming. We've found the following methods to yield the best results, as google searches bring up squat.

UNR's Childcare Program

Our first magical daycare we found was through the University’s Childcare Program. My husband is big on researching and after calling to see about enrolling Gwen into their daycare program while I was pregnant, he was told about UNR’s program that works with many in-home daycare providers in our area. This program goes above and beyond the county’s licensing program and really shows that the daycare providers enrolled in it are caring individuals who want to better themselves and their childcare business.

That being said, there is little to no information available about this program and how to contact them. Lucky for us we were given the email address of who to contact there. Her name is Michelle Gehlert, the program coordinator and her email address is and her phone number is (775) 682-5939. Beware that she is busy and it takes her awhile to get back to you. Be patient, as her referrals are the best in the city, but also beware that it may take her 2-3 days to get a list to you.


The second daycare we found was, believe it or not through craigslist. I had written it completely off after seeing terribly written ads with typos galore and terrifying pictures. But times got desperate. Which is how I landed on one that had pictures of a gorgeous backyard and a playground that rivaled any parks near our house. I took a chance and met with them and they ended up being the best thing for our daughter who we are sad to see close.

That being said, here are a few rules I follow when looking for daycares in craigslist. I am extremely weary when looking on craigslist.

  • 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.

Northern Nevada Childcare Alliance

Next up, your best resource is going to be the Northern Nevada Childcare Alliance. I would really look here before craigslist. They have a referral list that is separated out by different parts of the city, with current openings at the different childcares. I would first go through and find the board member’s names and see if they have any openings. Then go through and call from there.

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.

Washoe County Child Care Services

As a last resort there is Washoe County’s current list of licensed childcare providers. Just go down and call, call, call asking about any openings. Call their social workers at (775) 337-4470 and ask if they know of any openings in your specific area. They are extremely helpful. That being said, however, the licensing list yields no results. I have called numerous people off all the lists only to hear that they’re full, they’re not open for the hours listed, etc. I use this as my last resort.

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. Not like they’re operating a business or anything.

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 felt that way.

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. So what we like to do is 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 apolgetic 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.


It has taken since last Friday to finally compile a list of possible daycares. We followed all the steps I've recommended. We have called over 20 daycares in the past couple of days.

Three out of 25 were able to meet us for an interview. What about the other 20, you ask?

While I’d like to say that most were full, I’m sad to say that most of them refused to be flexible with our hours. We commute from Carson City. While we barely make it in between the usual 7:30-5:30 hours, we really need to drop her off at 7:15 and pick her up around 6pm. This is a burden, we acknowledge that. We would be happy to pay an extra fee if necessary.

90% of the home daycares we’ve talked to are open 7:30-5. I ask you, who gets off work before 5? The only people I can think of are teachers, and it seems as if the entire city of Reno and Sparks tailor their daycares to teachers. The rest of the real working world is royally fucked and must resort to sending their kids to the disease factories that are daycare centers.

50% of the women we’ve contacted are complete bitches over the phone. Again, these people are running a business and we are potential paying customers. There is no reason to act agitated over the phone, especially if someone is asking simple questions about your business that’s been listed with openings. If you’re busy, don’t pick it up and call back later.

Also, most daycares worry themselves over where their location is in proximity to us. Truth be told, it's one of the most annoying parts of calling daycares. I can't tell you how many people have told us we need to just look in Carson. Let us worry about whether we want to make the drive to your house or not. They do not make that decision for us. Hell, theydon't even need to know where we live, as long as we make it to drop off and pick up during the times we've said we would. Our current daycare never asked once where we live and that was amazing. We made the decision to drive 30 minutes to their home from ours, not them.

And so, here we are, with only three options in the entire city.

Can't wait to share with you how we handle our interviews and what questions we have found are the best to ask!

But for now, enjoy a printable version of this extremely long blog post. All the main points and contact information are on one pretty page, because lord knows you can use some pretty when you're in the trenches.

Click here to download: How to Find a Daycare in Northern Nevada Printable

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