Every parent has heard the stories of some horrifying event happening to a child while under the care of a babysitter or daycare. How do parents ensure that doesn’t happen to their kids? There are so many more factors than just cost to consider when choosing child care. Here are a few tips and questions I’d ask when choosing the best, high-quality child care possible.

Child Care Setting

  • Make sure to tour both the inside and outside of the facility. Watch for the interaction between staff, parents, and children.

Questions to Ask Staff

  • Are the facility and personnel licensed?
  • What qualifications do providers have (e.g., child development education)?
  • What is the ratio of children-to-care providers?
  • Is the provider CPR and first aid certified?
  • Are nutritious meals/snacks provided? Get examples.
  • What is the cost? Hourly, daily, weekly? Does the cost change if your child is there for only part of the week or month? For example, if your family leaves on vacation and comes back mid-week, will you be charged for the full week, or just the days/hours your child is being cared for?
  • Can parents drop in any time to visit?
  • Is there a daily schedule of activities? Are activities flexible to meet needs of individual children?
  • What is the daily method of communication between child care providers and parents?
  • How do providers handle conflict or discipline children?
  • Are children allowed to make choices throughout the day?
  • What is the sick policy, for kids and providers?
  • Do children watch TV or movies at the care setting? How much/often? Is it age appropriate?
  • How are naptimes handled?

Facility: Inside Things to Look For Or Ask About

  1. What is your initial feeling/impression upon entering the site?
  2. Is there an emergency exit plan?
  3. Does anyone smoke?
  4. Are there pets?
  5. Are there toys that are age appropriate and safe?
  6. Are there any obvious hazards within reach of children (e.g., electrical cords, cleaning materials, medications)?
  7. Is there a working fire extinguisher and smoke detector on site?
  8. Is there enough space for active play?
  9. Is there air conditioning and heat?

Facility: Outside Things to Look For Or Ask About

  1. Is the outside area free of liter and hazards (e.g., wells, broken glass)
  2. Is outdoor equipment in good repair and safe?
  3. Do children have an opportunity to play outside each day, weather permitting?
  4. Is the outside area fenced?
  5. Are children supervised while outside?

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About The Author

Dr. Monica Wonnacott

I'm a pediatrician and a mom. I've been doing this doctor thing for 10 years, and love it. I'm known for giving parents the straight scoop without always sugar-coating it. And I believe in educating parents. The more you know, the better care you give your kids.

Dr. Monica Wonnacott

I'm a pediatrician and a mom. is my blog where parents can get the straight scoop on their child's health, largely based on my experience in the office and at home. I don't diagnose on the site, so please don't ask. These are just my opinions. Use this site as a resource. And trust your parent gut.

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