Checklist: Interviewing Daycare

Before you sign your child up for daycare, make sure you tic off each of the items on this list.

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  • Is the facility licensed by your state?
  • Is the facility accredited? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredits childcare centers; the National Association for Family Child Care accredits family providers.
  • Does the center have a record of complaints? (Check with your local health and social services department, or the Better Business Bureau.)
  • Has the staff gone through criminal background checks? (Laws vary by state; go to childcare.gov more info.)
  • Does the staff practice safe, sanitary procedures when putting babies to sleep, preparing food, and diapering/toileting? (Are babies placed on their backs to sleep? Do staffers wash their hands after each diaper change?)
  • Is the overall atmosphere of the center/home pleasant and welcoming?
  • Are there different areas for children to play actively and quietly? To rest?
  • Are dangerous materials (like scissors, medicine, and cleaning supplies) kept locked and out of children's reach?
  • Are the toys age-appropriate, safe, and clean?
  • Are the children supervised at all times, including naptime?
  • Are parents encouraged to drop in at any time?
  • Does the facility have fire-escape and emergency plans? Are they visibly posted?
  • Are caregiver(s) trained in CPR and first aid?
  • Does the center/home have emergency contact information on file for each child?
  • Is the playground surface soft? Is the equipment free of sharp edges as well as chipping and peeling paint?
  • What are the guidelines regarding illness and staying home?
  • Are there enough childcare providers? (The NAEYC recommends no more than 3 to 4 babies, 3 to 12 toddlers, or 6 to 10 preschoolers per adult.)
  • Does the childcare center have a low employee turnover rate?
  • Do the caregiver(s) have training in child development and/or early childhood education?
  • Are the childcare provider(s) experienced in caring for children the same age as your child and a little older?
  • Do you agree with their discipline practices? How about their attitude toward weaning? Toilet training? Feeding?
  • Do the caregiver(s) welcome your questions and suggestions?
  • Are they interested in hearing about your child?
  • Do they communicate with parents on a regular basis? Will they tell you what your child is doing every day?
  • Does the staff seem relaxed, warm, and caring?
  • Do they handle conflicts without losing patience, shaming a child, or being overly punishing?
  • Do the caregiver(s) engage children in stimulating activities? Do they seem to really enjoy being with kids?
  • Do the caregiver(s) take the time to communicate with the children?
  • Do you see caring, nurturing interactions between caregiver(s) and children in a variety of situations? Even when a child is being difficult?
  • Are children's individual needs met even when things get busy?
  • Do the children seem happy and engaged in activities?
  • Are the activities developmentally appropriate for each age group?
  • Do the children have choices in their activities?
  • Are there enough toys, books, and play materials for the children?
  • How flexible is the pick-up/drop-off time? If you need a little wiggle room, make sure they're not too strict.

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