What to Look for in a Child Care Center

Below are some criteria to look for in a quality child care center.  These questions should be considered when searching for the perfect place for your family.

THE COMPANY

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Are they state licensed?
  • How many times have they switched owners?
  • Is the owner local or part of a franchise corporation?

THE EXTERIOR

  • Does the center have a nice “curb appeal”?
  • Are the grounds clear of trash/debris?
  • Is it well landscaped?
  • Is the landscaping taken care of well?
  • Are the sidewalks safe, no holes or big cracks that might be tripping hazards?

BUILDING LAYOUT

  • Does each age group have their own space / room?
  • Are the rooms spacious?
  • Are there any big rooms for large activities during the winter months?

INTERACTIONS

  • Are you greeted well and given a tour by the Director?
  • Is the Director dressed professionally?
  • Does the Director seem knowledgeable?
  • Are they happy to answer any questions you have?
  • Does the Director seem happy to be there?
  • Are the teachers interacting with the children?
  • Are they getting down to be on the same level as the younger children?
  • Are all the teachers keeping their voices at a reasonable level?
  • Are the staffed dressed appropriately for working with children?
  • Do the teachers talk to the children in a happy / exuberant tone?

STAFF EXPERIENCE

  • How long has the Director worked for that company?
  • How many years have they worked in the child care field?
  • How many years have the rest of the staff been there?
  • How often do they hire new people?
  • Are there enough people in the building?

KID FRIENDLY DECOR

  • Are there colorful and fun decorations displayed in the center?
  • Are the decorations commercial or things the children have made?
  • Are the decorations displayed correct for the current season / holiday?
  • Do they brighten up the center?

STAFF RATIOS

  • Age Range                                  Number of                                           Number of
  • of Children                                       Staff                                                 Children
  • 6 weeks to 18 months                       1                                                             4
  • 18 months to 3 years                         1                                                             6
  • 3 years                                               1                                                            10
  • 4 and 5 years                                     1                                                            12
  • Kindergarten / School-agers               1                                                            15

PLAYGROUND

  • Is there a good sized play structure?
  • Is it in good working order and sturdy?
  • Are there any obvious hazards on the playground?
  • Is there enough equipment so that all the children can be playing on/with something?
  • Do the children have an opportunity to play outside every day (weather permitting)?
  • Are the younger children physically separated from the older children during outside play?

TOYS & GAMES

  • Are the toys in good condition, clean, unbroken?
  • How often are they cleaned/disinfected?
  • Are there enough toys for each child to have something during playtime?
  • Is there a good mix of educational and fun toys?
  • Are the toys age appropriate?

SAFETY

  • Does the center have fire evacuation / tornado plans in place and posted?
  • Can they tell you quickly when the last drill was?
  • Are there fire extinguishers readily and easily accessible?
  • Is there an alarm system in place?
  • Are the entrances secured?

SICK POLICY

  • What is the sick child policy of the center?
  • At what point do they call a parent to send the child home?
  • Under what circumstances are you told about other children having certain illnesses that might be contagious?