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!
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?
▢ 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?
▢ 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?