Evaluate a Child Care Program

You may want to use the checklist below when choosing a child care center or family child care home for your child.

General Observations

  1. Is your visit welcomed by the caregiver, director, and/or other staff?
  2. Is the Child Care Center or Family Day Care Home license posted?
  3. Are the adult/child ratios what they are supposed to be?
    • Small Family day care home: 1:8 (providing 2 children are 6 years or older)
    • Large Family day care home: 2:14 (providing 2 children are 6 years or older)
    • Infant Center: 1:4
    • Preschool Center: 1:12
    • School Age Center: 1:14
  4. In a family day care home, do the children have access to most of the home, except for a few “off-limit” areas?
  5. Does each child have a place for personal belongings?

Health and Safety

  1. Is the facility clean (especially kitchen and toilet areas)?
  2. Does each child have his/her own place to sleep (bed, cot, mat, crib)?
  3. Are nutritious, balanced meals and snacks served at appropriate times? (Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks should be provided daily.)
  4. Is there a first-aid kit? Are emergency phone numbers posted?
  5. Are sick children isolated in a separate room or area?
  6. Do the children spend time playing outdoors? Is outdoor play adequately supervised?


  1. Is there a planned schedule of activities and routines? Is the schedule posted?
  2. Are the activities age-appropriate? Do they encourage creativity and hands-on learning?
  3. Are infants given regular periods of attention when they are held, spoken to and played with? Are they given a change of position and location frequently?
  4. Are the toys and equipment sturdy and age-appropriate? Is there a variety of toys? Are there enough materials so that children do not always have to share popular items?
  5. Are creative materials provided (paints, playdough, building blocks, etc.)? Are the children allowed to express their individuality in their creations?
  6. Are television and videos used infrequently as substitutes for more stimulating activities?
  7. Does the caregiver keep notes on your child’s activities and development to share with you on a regular basis?

After enrolling your child in any child care program, whether a family day care home or a center facility, it is important to continue to monitor what goes on there. The following steps are recommended, after your child is enrolled, to ensure that the program is providing good child care.

  1. Communicate regularly with your child’s caregiver.
  2. Speak with other parents about the programs.
  3. Drop in occasionally during different times of the day.
  4. Encourage your child to share his or her feelings about child care. If your child is not talking yet, observe behavior and note any changes.
  5. Get involved with the program. If possible, volunteer for a field trip or to help with a special activity.
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