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Choosing Child Care Homes and Centers: Your Choice - Your Responsibility

  1. Call for information - ask about:
    • Hours, days, fees
    • How many children and their ages
    • Staff experience, training, turnover
    • Transportation to school and activities
    • Meals and snacks
    • Whether unannounced visits are allowed
  2. Visit with your child – observe:
    • Are the children busy, happy, and interacting with adults?
    • Is the play area, bathroom and kitchen clean?
    • Are the toys clean, in good condition, and age appropriate?
    • How are problems handled (crying, fighting, shyness)
    • Look at the posted child care license and latest Report of Inspection
  3. Sit down and talk:
    • Are parents encouraged to visit and ask questions?
    • What is the child/staff ratio?
    • How are emergencies handled?
    • What is the discipline policy?
    • Review the current meals and snacks
    • Review the daily routine: activities – outdoor/indoor, quiet/active, group/alone, planned/free times
    • What are the sick and vacation policies?
    • What about medications?
    • What about naps?
    • Is a written agreement for parent/care giver responsibilities?
    • What is the first aid knowledge?
    • What about television viewing?
    • Are their any extra charges, and for what?
    • References
  4. After the visit ask yourself:
    • Would my child fit into this group?
    • Would my child's emotional, social and learning needs be recognized and developed here?
    • Am I satisfied that my child will be safe and comfortable in this setting?

Your responsibility continues:

  1. After your child is enrolled:
    • Visit at least every 3 months (unannounced)
    • Talk to your child every day regarding how things are
    • Watch for any changes in personality
    • Talk with other parents
    • Give no "blanket" permission for outings
    • Authorization: prohibit release of you child to those unauthorized
  2. If problems arise:
    • Talk with the director or care giver
    • Talk with other parents
  3. Danger Signals:
    • Listen to your child. If (s)he is constantly unhappy or withdrawn, something is wrong.
    • Bedwetting, nightmares, signs of violence, and expressing affection in unusual ways may also be danger signals.
    • Be cautious is the care givers sound angry or cross, or if they seem overwhelmed with their responsibilities.

A good facility can be wrong for a particular child. Your observations and your sense of instinct about how your child fits in are your best guides. Trust your feelings!

Checklist materials compiled by: Colorado Commission on Children and Their Families, Mile High United Way, Colorado Department of Human Services, El Paso County Department of Human Services