Child Care Checklist
Child care services differ in size and style as much as families do. Before investigating the vast array of choices, sit back and assess your family’s needs and priorities. Think about your own style of child rearing. Consider what is most important to you. Careful and thorough preparation will save precious time. Your knowledge and understanding of what’s best for your family is the most important ingredient to a successful search.
Here are some questions to ask for ALL types of child care:
- How many children are in the program?
- How many are full- time? Part-time?
- What are the ages of the children?
- How many children are there per adult?
- May I contact parent for references?
- Please describe a typical day
- How much screen time do you allow?
- How will we communicate about my child? How often?
- Can I visit unannounced?
- How do you handle a medical emergency?
- How do you handle a child who is crying? Break the rules? Takes something from another child?
- Tell me about your experience and educational training
- What are your staff requirements?
- Is staff CPR and First Aid Certified?
- What precautions are taken when children are taken off site? Seat belts? Car seats? Drivers?
- Is there an emergency evacuation plan?
Things to look for when you visit:
- Is the facility cheerful? Appealing? Clean?
- Do caregivers pay individual attention to children?
- Do caregivers hug children when they need comfort?
- Do they speak with children at eye level?
- Do they participate in play?
- Do they seem to enjoy children?
- Is there a variety of age appropriate toys? Books? Equipment?
- Do children seem happy? Enthusiastic? Relaxed?
- Are children actively engaged?
- Is there sufficient outdoor space and equipment?
Questions to ask yourself
- Am I comfortable with the caregiver? Program? Facility?
- Do I trust this person to care for my child?
- Do the rules seem reasonable and clear?
- Am I happy with the type and variety of activities?
- Am I satisfied with the references?
- If I were a child, would I enjoy spending time here?
Questions for specific types of child care:
Care in your home:
- Why are you looking for a position taking care of children?
- How long are you willing to contract for?
- Is child care a temporary or career position for you?
- Where have you worked previously and for how long?
- Tell me about the children you’ve cared for. How old were they? What were their favorite activities?
- What activities do you think my child would enjoy?
- How will you get to work each day?
- Do you have any responsibilities that could interfere with your work with my child?
- Have you ever toilet trained a child? Describe your method.
Family/Group Family Child Care:
- Who else is in your home during the day? How are they related? May I meet them?
- Why did you become a child care provider?
- Do you have pets? How much television is watched each day and what is the content?
- Is smoking permitted in your home?
- Click here for our printable checklist for family/group family
Child Care Centers
- What are the minimum qualifications for staff?
- How long does the average teacher stay at the center?
- How do you handle nap time? Field trips?
- Get our printable checklists for centers: infants, toddlers, and school-age
Preschool or Nursery School
- How do you balance activities and free time?
- How long does the average teacher stay at the program?
- How do you handle nap time?
- Click here for our printable checklist for preschool or nursery schools
- How do you balance activities and free time?
- Is there a quiet place for homework?
- Will my child have a choice of activities?
- Do you provide transportation to and from school?
- Click here for our printable checklist for school-age programs
Questions to ask placement agencies:
- How and where do you recruit your applicants?
- How do you screen your applicants?
- What experience or training do you expect of your employees?
- What services do you provide to me and my caregivers?
- What do you do if I’m dissatisfied with my caregiver?
- What are your fees and when are they paid? Are they refundable?
How to make your decision:
Now that you've thought about your specific needs and priorities and have had a chance to consider the different child care options, you’re ready to investigate services.
- First call and verify that the service is potentially good for you. Is there an opening for your child? Do the hours of operation meet your needs?
- Having received enough information to proceed, make an appointment to visit without your child. You’ll want to spend enough time to get to know the caregiver as well as the program itself.
- Remember, a referral is NOT a recommendation. No one knows your family as well as you do. What’s good for one family is not necessarily good for yours.
- Ask for references. Speak with at least two parents whose children are enrolled in the program and ask about their satisfaction as well as your specific concerns.
- Once you have selected an arrangement for your family your next step is to prepare your child and yourself for this new experience. Don’t expect it to be easy; do expect a few bumps.
- Arrange a visit for your child with the caregiver on a day you can spend some quality time together. Talk about your visit and what the new arrangement will be like. If possible, plan several short visits before your child begins regular attendance or agree to a trial period of one or two weeks to further evaluate your selection.
- Trust yourself! Your good judgment and instincts are most important.
If you feel you need more preparation please call our Parent Services Department.