35 Essential Questions to Ask When Choosing an ECE Program for Your Child

March 24, 2021

For parents of young children, few tasks are more stressful than choosing a child care program for your little one. Whether you are considering a preschool program at an early childhood education center or a home-based child care program, here are the most important 35 questions to ask.

Checking out a program in-person? We invite you to download and print out this checklist to bring with you to the visit!

35 Essential Questions to Ask When Choosing an ECE Program for Your Child

35 Essential Questions to Ask When Choosing an ECE Program for Your C

Infographic Transcription

Licensing and Credentialing

▢ Is the early childhood program/setting licensed by the state or local government?

▢ Is the early childhood program/setting accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association of Family Child Care?

▢ Are the educators credentialed by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition with a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ for infant/toddler, preschool or family child care?

▢ Do educators possess an equivalent credential that addresses comparable competencies (such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree)?

▢ What training do staff members have in infant-toddler development, and/or preschool?

Parental Engagement

▢ Are parents free to visit at any time during the day?

▢ Do parents receive daily written reports about the children’s day (and formal progress reports at least twice a year)?

▢ How can parents get involved in the program?

Language, Accessibility and Diversity

▢ Do the educators speak to the children, including babies/infants? Do they sing and read to the children?

▢ Do the educators respect the language, culture, and values of families in the program?

▢ Do the educators speak your home language?

▢ Does the program philosophy embrace diversity and dual language learning?

▢ Are the educators able to accommodate the special needs of children?

▢ Does the environment accommodate the special needs of children?

Class Size

▢ Is there a primary teacher for my child?

▢ Are the ratios and group size appropriate for my child’s age?


▢ Is each baby allowed to eat and sleep according to their own rhythms, and not based on a schedule imposed by the teacher?

▢ For toddlers/preschoolers, is a daily schedule posted, using pictures and visuals, so that children

▢ can anticipate what will happen next?

▢ Are children permitted to function on individual schedules? What does this look like?

Pedagogy and Practice

▢ Do teachers answer children’s questions patiently?

▢ Do the teachers ask children questions?

▢ Are toys and materials well organized so that children can choose what interests them?

▢ How do the educators feel about discipline/ guidance? Weaning? Toilet learning? Feeding? Do the educators’ beliefs match your own?

▢ Do the educators handle conflict without losing patience, shaming a child, or frequently displaying anger?

▢ Do the educators seem to enjoy children?

▢ Do the educators get along and seem to be happy with each other?

▢ What is the average length of time that educators work for this child care program?

Environment and Safety

▢ Would your child feel comfortable visiting this program? Would you feel comfortable leaving your child at this program?

▢ What safety measures do staff members take to ensure child safety indoors, outdoors, and in case of an emergency?

▢ Is the environment sanitary and safe?

▢ Is the setting appealing, with comfortable lighting and an acceptable noise level?

If your child has special needs and/or a disability (special accommodation)

▢ Are the staff members enthusiastic about accommodating your child?

▢ Do the staff members understand the medical and therapeutic procedures and assistive technology to support your child’s needs?

▢ Are the staff members trained and supported to accommodate children with special needs?

▢ Is the setting accessible to your child?

▢ Do any books/toys feature children with special needs?

▢ Are the staff members willing to help your child develop the skills that match what your family believes are important?


This checklist is authored by the Council for Professional Recognition CDA Advisory Committee and Vilma M. Williams, Recruitment and Special Programs Manager. This guidance is frequently updated by the Council for Professional Recognition, and was last updated in March 2021.


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