What to look for when visiting prospective day care centers and family day care homes.

Child-to-staff ratio of 3:1 in a center caring for infants, 4:1 for 2-year-olds, and 7:1 for 3-year-olds.

Children should be supervised at all times.

Dedicated, friendly caregivers who are trained in child development, early-childhood education, or a related field

Center that's licensed and regularly inspected for health and cleanliness

Written policy on caring for ill children

Limited or no TV viewing

Safe sleep and play environments

Clean toys in good condition with no sharp edges

Diapering area separate from children's play areas

Perishable food refrigerated

Cleaning supplies and other toxic materials in locked cabinet

Easily accessible first-aid kit and posted emergency numbers

Electrical outlets covered with protective caps

Security gates at top and bottom of stairs

Window guards on all windows except designated fire exits

Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers

All outside play areas enclosed; soft surfaces under all equipment

An emergency evacuation plan


Copyright ? 2001 by Meredith Corporation.

Parents Magazine