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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?