Choosing a Daycare

Is the day care licensed?

To be licensed means the facility has met minimal standards in your area for health, fire and safety.  This includes child/staff ratios and inspections of facility and staff at regular intervals.  There is no national day care standard of care that must be met so you must be knowledgeable about your community’s standards.

Is the day care safe?

Check stairway safety for gates at top and bottom of stairwell.  Look for fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, electric outlet covers, locked cabinets, and furniture with no sharp edges.  Safe outdoor equipment with soft play surface coverings such as bark chips should be in place in case of falls.  Non-toxic art supplies and toys that cannot be aspirated or swallowed should be used.  Security and screening of visitors should be enforced.  Emergency phone numbers should be posted.  Staff should be trained in first aid and CPR.

Does the day care promote a healthy environment?

Infections are common in day care, but many can be prevented.  Diaper changing areas should have disinfectants close at hand.  Staff and children’s hands should be washed prior to food handling and after utilization of toilet facilities.  Staff should wash their hands after contact with sick children.  Surface, toys, and equipment should be cleaned daily with disinfectants.

All staff and children should be properly immunized prior to enrollment and/or employment.  Each day care should have a physician consultant connected with its program.

Is the day care a “happy” place?

Observe interactions of staff and children.  Staff and children should enjoy interactions with one another.  Adequate physical space and a proper ratio of 4 to 5 children per staff member assures both the space and attention your child requires to enjoy his/her stay.  Avoid day care centers with high turnover rates of staff.

Is the day care providing creative activities?

A wide variety of acuities should be available for all children.  Music, art, reading and picture books, puzzles, balls, blocks, puppets are a few items your child should enjoy.  An equal balance of structural programs, as well as supervised free play, keeps children interested and motivated.

What type of discipline is used?

Inquire as to the policy on discipline in the day care.  Corporal (physical) punishment should be avoided.  A more effective intervention is one utilizing “time out” or redirection.  Be clear with the day care about what type of discipline you want used.  Observe how the staff deals with problem behaviors in other children.  Avoid a day care where staff relies on threats, arguing or loud voices to get children to “cooperate.”