Evaluating Your Child-care Provider

As part of the final choice in child care, have your child spend part of a day in the center or home for a “trial.” Be sure you can be easily contacted during this time. Discuss the experience with your child and the caregiver or center personnel.

  1. Once you've chosen a center, keep visiting whenever you can and watch what is going on.
  2. Ask questions when you have them.
  3. Read all notes that are posted or sent home.
    • These notes tell you about special events or things your child needs to bring to the center.
  4. If drop-off and pick-up times seem too busy and hectic to talk to a caregiver about progress or problems, set up a different time to come in and talk.
  5. Once your child is attending, be alert to his or her reaction to the facility and the caregivers.
    • Keep in touch with the situation by periodically calling and visiting to see how your child is doing. Get to know the staff to develop a good working relationship with them.
  6. As a parent, it is up to you to keep checking and be sure your child is happy in the care you have selected. Be involved in his or her learning, and ask the caregiver about your child’s involvement and adaptation to the program.

Things to Watch For:

  1. Caregivers who seem indifferent or harsh to children, use many don'ts and punishments.
  2. Caregivers that hardly speak with the children or respond to them.
  3. Caregivers who discipline children by spanking, shouting, putting children by themselves for a long time, or not giving them food.
  4. Children who are out of sight or are made to wait for long periods of time.
  5. Dirty floors and equipment, furnishings that are damaged or unsafe, peeling paint, etc.
  6. Not enough toys or interesting activities.
  7. Different caregivers each day — your child may not feel as secure.
  8. It is normal for children to be upset when they are first separated from their parents - they may even get upset for the first two to four weeks. But, if your child is distressed for more than a month, there could be a problem.
    • Make surprise visits to the center or home and watch what is going on.
  9. If you think your caregiver is breaking safety rules (too many children, unsafe areas), then call your state authorities.
  10. If you have doubts, seek new care. Keep in mind that too many changes, however, may confuse your child.