Child Care Checklist

Choosing child care for your child is a very important and sometimes difficult decision. As a parent, you want to ensure that your child is safe and happy in a child care environment that is fun, educational, and nurturing. Read on to learn how to go about making such an important decision.

LOOK

Start by going to see several child care homes or centers. Your child’s early development depends upon how good the caregiver is that you choose. Think about your first impression after each visit. Ask yourself:

  • Does the place look safe for your child?
  • Do the caregivers/teachers that will take care of your child seem to enjoy talking and playing with the children?
  • Do they kneel down to talk with each child at the child’s eye level?
  • Are there enough toys and learning materials within a child’s reach?
  • You should always visit a home or center more than once. Stay as long as you can to get a good feel for what the care will be like for your child. Even after you start using the child care, continue to visit from time to time.  Providers should have a open door policy in place.

LISTEN

What does the child care setting sound like?

  • Do the children sound happy and involved with other children, teachers and caregivers?
  • Do the teachers’ voices sound cheerful and patient?
  • A place that is too quiet may mean there is not enough activity. On the other hand, a place that is too noisy may mean the teachers are not in control.

COUNT

Count how many children are in the group. Then count how many staff members are caring for them. The fewer children there are for each adult, the more attention your child will get. A small number of children per adult is very important for babies and younger children.

Staff-to-children ratio requirements for child day centers

Birth to the age of 16 months

16 months to 2 years

2 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 9 years

10 to 12 years

1:4

1:5

1:8

1:10

1:18

1:20

Family child care providers shall ensure that a caregiver does not exceed 16 points by using the following point system to determine if an additional caregiver is needed:

Birth to the age of 15 months

16 to 23 months

2  to 4 years

5 to 9 years

10 and older

4 points

3 points

2 points

1 point

0 points

ASK

It’s very important that the adults who take care of your children know how to give them the attention they need.

  • Is child care staff trained to give medications or the parent responsible for giving all medications?
  • Are the medications labeled to make sure the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?
  • Ask what experience staff has and about their backgrounds.
  • Ask about the program director, owner, volunteers and any other adults that will have contact with your child in the home or center.
  • Ask about any special training staff may have completed.
  • Is the program accredited?  “Accreditation” is another way to judge the quality of a child care program.  Family child care homes and child care centers can choose to get accredited by a child care accrediting organization. But, they have to meet higher standards than licensing rules.  Any child care program can get accredited. Child care centers, family child care homes, and after school programs all have different organizations that conduct the accreditation process.

BE INFORMED

  • Be sure to understand anything you sign and get a copy. Written agreements help parents and caregivers know what is expected of each.
  • Good care providers and teachers will be happy to answer your questions.
  • Contact Licensing to ask about the history of the child care provider regarding licensing visits you can view inspection records online.
  • Report any suspicious behaviors or concerns you have about a child care provider to Licensing (800) 543-7545.

 

Choosing Care for Infants and Toddlers

Choosing care for Preschoolers

Choosing care for School-agers

Choosing care for a child with special needs

What To Do When There Isn’t Enough Childcare

Summary of Child Care in VA