Choosing a Childcare Provider

Consider the things that are most important to you and your child when choosing daycare, childcare, preschool, nannies, babysitters, or any other person who will provide care for your child. 

Companies that offer background checks:
LexisNexis
Sterling Testing

Important things to consider and questions to ask when evaluating daycare or preschool facilities:

  1. Is the facility licensed and/or accredited?
  2. Distance from home/work?
  3. What are the hours of operation?
  4. What is the drop off/pick up procedure?
  5. What type of security measures are in place?
  6. Registration fee?
  7. Monthly fee?
  8. What does that fee cover?
  9. What other additional fees might there be (such as activity fees or enrichment opportunities)?
  10. Is there a fee reduction if a child is sick or takes vacation?
  11. Is there a waiting list?
  12. Can you visit while “class is in session” to get a better feel for the school?
  13. What is the Student/Teacher ratio in each classroom?
  14. What is the hiring procedure?
  15. What is the teacher(s) level of experience and education?
  16. Are the caregivers trained in child development?
  17. How long has each caregiver been with that daycare? Or what is the average tenure of each care giver?
  18. May I contact staff references?
  19. What is the curriculum for age group?
  20. What types of activities are done?
  21. Are there hands-on activities regularly?
  22. Do they go outside everyday (weather permitting)?
  23. Are there field trips?
  24. How many classes/age ranges are on playground at the same time?
  25. Do they have a large indoor play area for bad weather days?
  26. Do they have special instructor(s) for music or art? How often?
  27. Do they use computers? How often? How many children per computer?
  28. Do they have rest/nap time?
  29. What do they do for snack time and lunch each day?
  30. What is the level of parent participation? Can parents participate in program planning?
  31. Can parents take part in special events and trips?
  32. What is the illness policy?
  33. How do they handle discipline issues?
  34. How do they handle first aid situations? Does the staff have up-to-date first aid certificates?
  35. What is the fire/emergency plan?

Common Pitfalls When Choosing Daycare

  1. Failing to do your research.
  2. Forgetting to gather the basic info for each age level before deciding on a particular daycare. What babies, 1, 2, 3 and 4 year-olds do each day can vary greatly.
  3. Becoming too focused on location, make sure the facility meets your overall needs.
  4. Selecting a daycare based on perceived “prestige”.
  5. Selecting a daycare because it’s a bargain.
  6. Choosing a particular facility because of a specific teacher.
  7. While word of mouth is a good place to start your search for a daycare facility, do not base your decision solely on it.
  8. Sticking with a daycare. If you aren’t happy, start the process again.