Your visit to several child care programs is an important part of your selection process. What you observe during your visit will tell you many things about a program. Our checklists are designed to help you know what to look for and what questions to ask when visiting a child care program.
Print checklists for each program that you visit. Bring them with you to help you know what to look for and what questions to ask. Take notes so that you will remember what you saw, heard and felt about each program.
- Schedule an initial visit by yourself. Allow plenty of time to tour the entire facility, both indoors and outdoors
- Bring your child with you during your second visit to see how he or she interacts with the teachers and other children
- Make sure to observe the group that your child would attend
- Ask to meet all of the staff who will care for your child during the day
- If you have any additional questions, you should feel free to follow up your visit with further calls to the director or provider. Be sure that all your concerns are addressed so that you can feel comfortable with your child care choice
- Visit the Office of Children and Family Services website which has information about licensing and regulations. You can also find out if any provider who is registered or licensed by OCFS has had any violations in the past few years. A provider with no or minor violations may run a higher quality program. Click here to search for a specific provider.
Below are some sample questions that you will find on our checklists. Click on the links on the left side of this page to open the checklists that apply to the age of your child and the types of care that you are interested in. Look through all of the checklists for information about quality, early care and education, and other resources.
Adult to Child Ratio: Ask each provider how many children there are for each adult in the group. Ratios change as children get older. See our checklists for ratio requirements for different types of childcare.
Group Size: Ask how many children will be in the group or room that your child is in. The smaller the group, the better. While the adult to child ratio is the same, a smaller group may be quieter and more easily managed.
Provider Education and Turnover: Ask the provider about her training and education. Find out how much experience she has, and whether she continues to take classes and workshops. Providers with higher education and/or advanced training in child care may be better teachers for your child. Check how long the provider has been with the child care facility. Constantly changing providers is hard on a child. Your child should be spending his/her time learning, not adjusting to a new provider. It is best for a child to stay with the same caregiver for at least a year.
Accreditation: Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Some providers meet higher standards than what is required by most state licensing agencies. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
Family Involvement: Ask the provider if it is ok to drop in and spend time with your child. Are there opportunities to join special events? Find out if the provider has a system for sharing information about your child. Will there be regular meetings where you can ask questions and talk about concerns?
Health Safety: Ask if the provider has taken training and been approved to give medication to children. Medical records and emergency information should be kept on file for each child. Diaper changing areas should be cleaned after each use. Providers should wash their hands before and after each diaper change, and before and after feeding. Disposable gloves should be available. Toys should be washed frequently. All electrical outlets should be covered; wires should be out of reach. Cleaning fluids, medicine and firearms should be kept in locked closets. There should be no dangling cords, and all breakable, sharp or potential choking hazards should be out of reach.
Additional Information can be found at Child Care Aware, a national child care resource.