|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?