Ask the right questions: Daycare checklist

Dropping your child off at daycare can be a nerve-wracking experience for a lot of parents. There are so many thoughts running through your head and trying to pick a new facility can be extremely difficult. Check out this easy checklist, courtesy of ahdaycare.com, to keep you asking the correct questions to find the best fit for your child.

Availability

o What ages are accepted?

o What time can I drop my child off?

o What is the latest time that I can pick up my child?

o What holidays are you closed?

o Do you have space available for my child?

o Can I choose from a full-time or part-time schedule?

o If my child attends daycare part-time, do I need a set schedule?

o Can I visit the facility without an appointment?

o Do you have a list of references that I can call?

What to look for:

o Does someone answer phone calls promptly?

o Is a director conveniently available to answer questions?

Staff training and facility licensing

o Are you licensed and accredited?

o How long has your facility been providing daycare?

o What is the caregiver to child ratio?

o Does your staff have training in early childhood development?

o Are teachers trained in first aid and CPR?

o What is your staff turnover?

o Are background checks completed on staff members?

What to look for:

o Is there a certification license posted?

o Are there any state violations posted?

Daily activities and schedules

o Are nap times provided? What time and where?

o What activities will be available for my child?

o Will my child go on field trips outside the facility?

o Is there an education curriculum?

o How much time do they watch television during the day?

o Do you offer transportation? If so, from what schools or locations?

What to look for:

o What activities are children doing?

Meals

o Are meals provided by the daycare?

o Are snacks provided by the daycare?

o Are they nutritious meals and snacks?

o Do they allow for special needs diets?

o Are parents given a monthly menu?

o Do you have adequate storage for breast milk?

What to look for:

o Are the kitchen and eating areas clean?

o Is breast milk labeled?

o Are food allergies noted for teachers?

Care

o How are they disciplined?

o How do you handle toilet training?

What to look for:

o Are the children given lots of love and encouragement?

o How does staff interact with children?

Environment

o Do you have an outdoor playground?

o Are there personal cribs for each infant?

o Are there separate rooms for each age group?

o Is the staff allowed to smoke on facility premises?

o Are animals allowed on premise? (at-home daycares only)

o Are there provisions for children with special needs?

What to look for:

o What toys and activities are available?

o Does the center look well-kept?

Illness

o What is your sick policy?

o What do you do if my child becomes sick at daycare?

o What is your policy for handling falls or incidents?

o Are immunizations required?

o Do you dispense medication only with a parent or doctor’s signature?

Safety

o Is there a safety plan in place in case of an emergency?

o Are there restrictions on who may pick up my child?

o Are these restrictions confirmed?

o Are parents called when a child does not show up at the appropriate time?

o Does the playground equipment meet safety standards?

o Are hazardous materials kept out of reach of children?

o Is there a first aid kit?

o Do they have smoke detectors?

o Are fire exits marked and caregivers knowledgeable in a fire safety plan?

What to look for:

o Are safety gates working?

o Does the playground equipment look safe?

o Where are smoke detectors?

o Where are hazardous materials?

o Are fire exits marked?

o Are heating vents and radiators covered or inaccessible to children?

Sanitation

o How often are toys washed? What do you use to clean them?

o Do caregivers use gloves when handling food and when changing diapers?

o Are children taught to wash their hands before eating and after using the toilet?

What to look for:

o Does the facility look clean and composed during an unexpected visit?

o Are toys and furniture in good condition and up-to-date?

o Are caregivers using gloves?

o Is soap and paper towels provided in each restroom?

Registration and fees

o How do I register my child?

o I am pregnant. How do I reserve a space for my infant?

o What are your daycare fees for full-time? Part-time?

o Do you accept any kind of financial aid?

o Is there a reduction in fees if my child takes vacation?

o Is there a sibling discount?

o What is the fee for picking up my child late?

Before you make a decision on a daycare facility, don’t forget to factor in how convenient the center is to your work or home. Decide who will be dropping off and picking up your child and figure out if the daycare center’s location and hours provide enough travel time. Remember to include extra travel time for a late meeting or inclement weather.

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