This section was developed from a brochure published by City of Davis Child Care Services. For additional information, please visit
1. Call those programs that interest you and screen potential providers about price, location, ages accommodated, days available, & activities offered. If the program fits your needs, arrange a visit to the facility and use the guide below to observe and question potential caregivers. Identify at least three different programs; even if the first program seems perfect, check others for comparison.
2. Familiarize yourself with the following guide and use it as a resource when visiting child care programs.
- What is the education, experience, & background of the caregiver?
- Does the caregiver attend professional continuing training?
- Do expectations vary for children of different ages & interests?
- Observe interaction between providers and children. Are both children & staff happy and attentive?
- Do children get individual attention?
- Does the caregiver interact positively with children? Does s/he communicate on their level?
- Does the caregiver actively listen to the children & respond accordingly?
- Does the caregiver stress children's strengths and accomplishments?
- Does the caregiver display humor and common sense?
- Does the caregiver's philosophy of childcare mirror yours?
- Is the caregiver a person with whom you feel you can share concerns about your child?
- Is the caregiver able to resolve conflicts between children?
- Do the children seem comfortable and happy?
- Are children free to express themselves?
- Do the children trust the caregiver for comfort, help, and assistance?
- Does the caregiver help children learn consideration while asserting themselves?
- Is a set schedule established for the children?
- How is rest time handled?
- What activities are planned for the children? Are they age appropriate?
- What is the emphasis of activities - learning, creative play, or both?
- Are activities balanced between physical play and indoor activities?
- Are children allowed to select activities of interest to them?
- Does the caregiver recognize the value of play and encourage creativity?
- Are a variety of constructive toys available in adequate supply?
- Do play tools reflect our multicultural society without stereotyping?
- How are children disciplined?
- Is reasonable discipline maintained with an emphasis on teaching appropriate behavior?
- Is 'time out' utilized as an opportunity for introspection versus punishment?
- Are children allowed to exercise decision-making and problem-solving?
- What ratios are allowable under the caregiver's license?
- How many other children will be cared for, and what are their ages?
- Are there enough adults to provide adequate attention to all children?
- Is there enough space for all children to move about freely?
- Are there spaces for children to work or play both quietly and actively?
- Are rooms comfortable, inviting, interesting, & cheerful?
- Is children's work displayed where they can see and take pride in accomplishments?
Meals & Snacks
- Are nutritious, varied meals & snacks provided at appropriate times? Ask to see a current weekly menu.
- Can the caregiver accommodate special dietary needs?
- If you provide food for your child, how will the food be stored and prepared?
- Is the caregiver able to accommodate special needs?
- Is parent participation encouraged or required?
- Are parents welcome to attend or observe during regular hours?
- Is lighting, heat, and ventilation adequate?
- Is equipment safe and in good repair?
- Are medicines and other dangerous materials secured and out of reach?
- Are fire safety devices maintained and installed appropriately?
- In an emergency evacuation plan established and practiced regularly?
- Is emergency information kept on file for each child? How will you be contacted?
- What arrangements are available for sick children?
- Is a qualified assistant available in case of caregiver illness or emergency?