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Here’s a handy checklist, courtesy of the Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4Cs), to take with you when you visit a provider, or to use when you call.

What to look for when you visit:

  • Settings that are safe, provide small group sizes, and have adult-to-child ratios that encourage the best opportunities for development.
  • Caregivers or teachers who are warm, loving, and trained in early childhood development.
  • A clean, safe, warm and comfortable atmosphere.
  • Settings that offer opportunities for meaningful parent involvement.
  • Happy, well cared for children.
  • A child-centered environment that focuses on play.
  • Space for outdoor play and exercise.
  • Space for quiet play and naps.
  • Toilet area is accessible and easy for children to use.
  • A variety of toys and equipment in good condition and appropriate to the ages of the children in care.
  • Nutritious food and snacks and a clean food preparation area.
  • Positive discipline and guidance methods that foster the child’s ability to become self-disciplined. (Physical or verbal punishment of any kind, in centers or in a family child care home, is against the law.)
  • Cleaning supplies and medications are locked in a high cupboard and out of reach.

What to ask when you call:

  • Do you have a license?
  • Do you have any openings?
  • How many children are in your care?
  • What is the adult/child ratio?
  • What is a typical daily routine/schedule?
  • What experience, qualifications, or training do you have?
  • What is the staff turnover rate?
  • What is the philosophy of the program?
  • What are the fees?
  • Do you have experience or training in identifying and working with children who have special needs?
  • How much TV/video time is included in the daily schedule?
  • What kind of meals and snacks are served?
  • What are the rules about visiting the program?
  • Do you have a contract that covers fees, method of payment, illness, vacation?

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