Look for Providers Who Share Your Values and Philosophy About Children

You will want to look for providers and programs that also meet your needs around location, schedules and language. Once you have interviewed them over the phone. Visit them. Visit more than once, make one of the visits unannounced, and visit at different times of the day.Look for the following during your visit.

• If the child care program is licensed, the license should be posted

• The environment should be safe, clean, secure and free of health hazards

• There should be plenty of space both indoors & out for children to play

• There should be a place for the children to nap as well as space for quiet or private time

• There should be space to temporarily isolate a sick child

• Ideally, the provider will participant in the Child Care Food Program

• If meals and snacks are served, they should be healthy and nutritious and the food preparation area should be clean and safe

• Each child should have a place for his or her personal belongings

• Emergency numbers should be posted by the telephone

• The first aid kit should be easily accessible

• Look for safety hazards. Electrical outlets should be covered with safety caps and there should be no dangling cords, either electrical or on drapes or blinds. Stairs should be blocked by safety gates that are attached to the wall; preasure gates are not sufficient to ensure safety around stairs.

• There should be fire extinguishers/smoke alarms installed

• Smoking and alcohol should be prohibited when children are present

• If pets are present, they should have health records on file and should not pose a hazard to the children

• Providers and center staff should have first aid and CPR training

• Children and staff should wash hands before eating & after toileting

• The provider or center should provide you with references

• Providers and staff should have knowledge and experience in child development

• Look for possible staffing isssues. There should be enough staff that children are supervised at all times

• Ideally, each child will have a primary caregiver

• You will need to ask questions to determine whether or not the programs policies about nutrition, toileting, napping and discipline are consistent with those of your family

• Each child should receive individual attention

• Look for warm, positive interactions. You should be able to observe the provider interacting with the children in a responsive, caring manner

• The provider should show patience and understanding

• The staff should show understanding and help the children adjust to the transition from home to child care

• Parents should be allowed to visit the child care at any time

• Staff should encourage parent involvement and meet regularly with parents to discuss their children’s’ progress

• The program should provide parents with a parent handbook

• There should be a wide variety of learning materials, toys and equipment available

• Furniture, equipment and materials should be age and developmentally appropriate

• A daily schedule of activities should be posted

• Activies should promote social, emotional and cognitive growth as well as stimulating creativity. Children should have access to space and materials for both gross and fine motor development

• Ideally, little or no TV is used

• Children and parents should be treated with respect

• Children receive assistance when needed, but independence should be encouraged

• Cultural and religious values should be respected

Parents, of course,
also have some responsibilities:

• Take the time to interview, and visit as many programs as necessary.

• Ask for, and check references

• Identify back-up care in case your child gets sick and cannot attend child care, or for when the provider is closed for holidays, vacation or illness. It is the parent’s responsibility to find back-up care, not the providers

• Visit the program regularly

•Adhere, to the best of your ability, to an agreed upon schedule for dropping off and picking up your child

• Keep the provider informed of any changes that may affect your child.

• Provide contact information for yourself and anyone else authorized to pick up your child in case of emergency

• Provide instructions about medicines, allergies or any special needs your child may have

• Keep spare clothing and any other supplies needed updated so they still fit your child if the provider needs to change him or her

• Meet regularly with your child’s provider to discuss your child's progress

• Talk to your child about his experience in child care and talk to the provider if you have any concerns

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