Choosing a child care center is a very important decision for every family. Making comparisons between different early education facilities and programs is important. In order to find a high quality day care center, utilize this checklist. Ask the centers that you visit to answer the following questions. Also, observe the classrooms at each location. Select a center that meets your family’s needs.

Caregivers/Teachers:

  • Are caregivers/teachers trained in Early Childhood Education? CPR? First Aid? Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect Mandated Reporter Training? Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention? Sudden Infant Death Training? Blood Borne Pathogens – OSHA Standards for Preventing Disease Transmission?
  • Are staff-to-child ratios met?
  • Are parents informed and questions answered on a daily basis?
  • Are children greeted when they arrive?
  • Do the caregivers get down on each child’s level to speak with the child?
  • Do the caregivers genuinely seem to enjoy working with the children?
  • Are children’s needs quickly met?
  • Do the children in the programs seem relaxed and happy?
  • Are positive guidance techniques followed?
  • Do caregivers respect individual differences among the children?
  • Are thorough criminal background checks done for each staff member? Reference checks?
  • What is the facility’s YoungStar rating?

Activities:

  • Is there a regular daily schedule including both indoor and outdoor activities and a rest period?
  • Are activities geared for different developmental levels?
  • Are there enough toys and learning materials for the number of children?
  • Are there field trips for the preschool and school-age children?
  • Are there materials that can be used to develop fine motor skills? Gross motor skills? Imagination? Creativity? Simple science concepts? Language skills? Interpersonal skills?
  • When children are transported in center vehicles, are seat belts or age-appropriate car seats used?

Nutrition:

  • Is the food preparation area clean and sanitary?
  • Are menus posted in advance providing nutritionally balanced meals and snacks?
  • Do the staff and children wash hands before eating and preparing meals?
  • Are accommodations made for food allergies, intolerances, etc.?
  • Are family style meals served and socialization encouraged?

Physical Environment/Safety:

  • Is the atmosphere bright, cheerful and inviting to children?
  • Are games, toys, etc., accessible to children?
  • Are there different areas for resting, quiet play, and active play?
  • Are the play areas clean and large enough so children can move freely and safely?
  • Is play equipment (indoor and outdoor) sturdy and in good repair?
  • Are bathrooms clean, sanitary and accessible to children?
  • Is there adequate heat, ventilation, and lighting?
  • Are emergency telephone numbers posted by the telephones?
  • Are fire safety drills practiced? Tornado drills?
  • Are unused electrical sockets covered with safety caps?
  • Are potentially dangerous items stored away from children?
  • Is there a strict policy in place for releasing children to people other than their parents/guardians?
  • Do caregivers wash hands before and after diapering, toileting, wiping noses, and when handling food?
  • Is there a policy regarding illness and administering medication?

Quality Child Care Checklist (Printer-friendly PDF)

Additional Information: