What to ask when choosing a child-care facility.

basic checklist
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Questions for the Facility Representative

Choosing good child care is one of the most important decisions you'll make. Use this checklist to be sure you've picked a provider that offers quality care.

When visiting a child-care facility, ask your host the following questions:

____ Is the center licensed or registered with the local government? If so, may I please see a copy of the latest inspection report?

____ Can I visit the center during operating hours before registering my child in the program?

____ Can I examine all the areas my child will use?

____ Once my child is registered, will I be able to visit at any time?

____ Is there a written daily schedule that includes active play, quiet play, rest time, and snacks and meals?

____ Are there regular opportunities for indoor and outdoor play, and are children supervised at all times?

____ Is TV viewing limited to short times and appropriate programming?

____ Does the center offer parenting classes or other family support?

____ Is each child assigned to one caregiver who is primarily responsible for her care?

____ Does the caregiver meet with parents regularly?

____ Is there a written policy about discipline? If so, may I please read it?

____ Is smoking banned from the facility?

____ Are there written policies for the care of ill children that include the responsibilities of the parents?

____ Will the caregivers give prescribed medication to my child?

____ Is there a pediatrician or a nurse who serves as a consultant for the program?

____ Do staff members have training in child development and in providing a learning environment for children?

____ Have staff members received up-to-date first-aid training and CPR training?

____ How long have the caregivers been working there?

____ Are there arrangements if a caregiver gets sick or has to be away?

____ May I get recommendations from parents whose children are currently in the program?

Questions to Ask Yourself

Consider the following questions when you visit the facility:

____ Are there enough adult caregivers present at all times? Do these caregivers have a warm, responsive relationship with the children?

____ Does the staff appear to enjoy caring for the children, and do the children appear to be happy?

____ Is the facility bright, cheerful, and well ventilated? Is all equipment clean, safe, and well maintained?

____ Is the noise level comfortable?

____ Does there appear to be enough indoor space for the number of children present? (A clear area measuring 35 square feet per child is ideal.)

____ Is there a quiet area large enough for all children during nap time?

____ Does each child have his own cot, crib, or mat to sleep on, and is there three feet of space between each of these?

____ Are the toilets and sinks clean and easy for children to reach? Can children also reach clean towels, liquid soap, and toilet paper?

____ Is there a clean diaper-changing area? Is a sink well within the caregiver's reach?

____ Does each child have a cubby, locker, or other place for her own belongings?

____ Are infants always fed sitting up, with an adult present during meals and snacks?

____ Is all the food nutritious, well prepared, and well served? Can you preview the menus?

____ Are there enough age-appropriate toys available?

____ Is there an outdoor play area that's free of sharp edges, pinch points, sharp rocks, and ditches?

____ Is the playground equipment age appropriate, properly installed, and well maintained?

____ Is there impact-absorbing material such as wood chips, rubber mats, or loosely packed sand in areas where children might fall?

____ Do adults always supervise outdoor play?

____ Is your first reaction to the program that it would be a good, loving, and safe haven for your child?

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

American Baby