- The provider allows drop in visits.
- The caregiver appears to be warm, friendly, calm and loving, and seems to enjoy children.
- The provider understands what children can do and want to do at different stages of growth. The provider encourages and understands child development.
- Children are allowed to make choices.
- The provider talks with the children and encourages them to express themselves through words and creative activities.
- The provider holds and touches the children in a caring manner and responds to an infant’s cries to be fed, changed, or held.
- The caregiver handles conflicts without losing patience or displaying anger. Children are encouraged to resolve conflicts between themselves in an acceptable manner.
- The provider sets limits in a way that does not punish or shame children, and has policies for discipline, toilet training and feeding that are acceptable to you.
- The provider uses a positive reinforcement approach when disciplining and guiding children.
- The provider has previous experience or training in working with children at different stages.
- The provider is someone who listens to what you want for your child and asks questions about how you do things.
- The provider has explained about the possibility of different caregivers for your child if care crosses different shifts.
- Your child responds well to the provider. Each child receives individual attention.
- How frequent is staff turnover? Can you expect the same person to care for your child for the next year?
- The provider is flexible and understanding enough to work with the various moods of the children.
- An up-to-date license is posted.
- The environment is attractive, clean and well-lit.
- The play area is orderly enough to foster constructive play but not so orderly to be restrictive.
- There is a variety of equipment and materials to help children learn and grow mentally & physically.
- Children can reach materials and supplies without asking for adult assistance.
- The educational equipment and surroundings reflect ethnic and cultural diversity.
- The cribs, high chairs and other equipment are safe, suitable and in good condition.
- There is a place for the child if he/she chooses to be alone.
- There is enough space indoors and outdoors so all the children can move freely and safely, and different kinds of space are available for quiet play.
- The outdoor space is free of waste, protected from traffic and safe for all ages to play.
- There is a place for a child’s own belongings.
- There a proper sleeping place for nap time.
- There are first aid supplies and fire extinguishers.
- The provider is trained in CPR and first aid.
- Bathroom and diapering areas are separate and sanitized. There is water nearby for hand washing.
- The kitchen is clean and safe.
- The meals and snacks are fresh, nutritious and appealing.
- There is time for children to work as a group.
- There is time to play alone and also to interact with friends.
- The teacher/provider has described what a typical day’s schedule might be like for your child.
- The schedule shows active and quiet times throughout the day.
- The cost is within your budget, and what the fee includes is clearly explained.
- The values of the program are compatible with your values.
- Parents are involved in the program.
- The educational program and philosophy are clearly stated.
- The hours are suitable for your needs.
- How children may be transported has been discussed.
- The group sizes and child to staff ratio is acceptable.
Calling references is an important way to get more information. Ask for names of two to four parents who are both using or have used the provider in the past.
Making Your Decision: Trust Yourself
After considering all the information you have collected, you are ready to make a decision. You have a right to be particular. This special place for your child should leave you feeling at ease with the provider and the other children. If you feel hesitant about a situation, ask more questions or continue to look until you are confident that your decision will result in good care for your child. You know your child best, so let your parenting instincts be your best guide.
Does the Program Fit?
You may find that despite careful research and observation, the program you choose is not a good fit with your child. It may be hard to admit there are problems and that you’ll need to reopen your search, but it is essential that both you and your child are happy with the program.
What About Special Needs?
The Americans with Disabilities Act assures that children with special needs will be considered for admission into child care programs. Your decision will be based on what is available in the community, how specialized your child’s care may be, and what you think will work best for your child and you.