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Looking for a Family Day Home

The Do's and Don'ts

What do look for when searching for a family day home.


  • First of all, investigate licensing or registration requirements in your state or province and learn the difference between the two concepts. In many states or provinces, registration involves no inspections by the regulating agency and others may exempt homes from registration, if the total number of children falls at or under a certain limit.

  • Does the caregiver treat each child with dignity as the human being he or she is?

  • Does the caregiver acknowledge questions from the children or is she/he indifferent to their verbalizations?

  • Do the children appear stimulated, self-assured or do they seem bored or in need of attention?

  • Are the children verbally praised and acknowledged for their positive behaviors?

  • How are negative behaviors addressed?

    Day Care Equipment

  • Are interest centers available for individual or group unstructured free play?

  • Examples: Reading nook with books and comfortable cushions.

  • An area furnished with "dress-up" items such as hats, shoes, caps, capes for creative "pretend" moments?

  • Is the playground equipment securely anchored?

  • Are swingsets, slides, etc. free of rust or sharpe edges?

  • Is the surface of the play area composed of a material such as gravel or bark (designed to cushion a fall)?

  • Are fences free of sharp edges? Plus high and secure enough to keep children from climbing out?

  • Are water fountains and toilets at the child's level?

    Child Care Policies

  • What are the center's discipline policies?

  • What are their policies on dispensing medication?

  • Helpful hint - Ask your druggist to split your child's prescription into two bottles - one for the day care center and one for home. (One less thing to rememer each morning.)

  • What are the fees? (Tuition, supply, insurance, special activity fees, etc.) Is tuition due weekly, monthly? Is there a initial deposit and/or registration fee?

  • What is the enrollment deadline? Is there a waiting list?

  • Is tuition prorated for absences, illnesses, vacation?

  • Does tuition decrease with each subsequent birthday?

  • How are children assigned to groups? By age or readiness, level or both? How do children move up to a more advanced group?

  • Do the children view television programs or videos? Which ones and how much?

  • Are video games available? (Sega, etc.) Which ones and how much?

  • Are the children permitted to bring videos, video games or toys from home?

    Day Care
    Meals and Snacks

  • Are menus posted?

  • What does the kitchen equipment encompass? Full service or microwave only?

  • Are the children permitted or required to bring food from home?

  • Are birthday celebrations permitted? Cupcakes vs. cake and "trimmings."

  • Will the center permit invitations to off-premises birthday parties to be distributed?

    Child Care
    For Infants and Toddlers.

  • What must the parent provide? Formula, diapers, etc.

  • Are toddlers allowed to have a pacifier or favorite blanket to comfort them?

    Day Care
    For Special Needs Children.

  • What provisions can be made to accomadate children who have specific medical needs? For instance: a nebulizer?

    Child Care
    Staff and Caregivers

  • Longevity - How long has the teacher been employed by the center?

  • What is the average length of service for the employees at the facility?

  • What is the teacher's educational background?

  • How long have the teachers been in the field?

  • What type of on-going training does the center provide to their teacher and staff.

  • Are substitutes called in for a teacher's absence or are the children simply combined with another class or group?

    Day Care Safety

  • How often are fire drills conducted?

  • What are the center's policies for inclement weather?

  • Where will they evacuated to in the event of natural disaster?

  • What are the policies for releasing children to individuals other than parents? Will identification be checked?

  • Are the staff familiar with first aid and CPR?

  • Are smoke detectors and fire extinquishers in good working order?

  • Are cleaning agents stored out of the reach of the children?

  • Are electrical outlets protected and securly covered?

  • Are the grounds free of standing water? Are their any bodies of water in proximity to the grounds? Busy roadways? Are mop buckets drained after use and never left unattended?

  • Are ceiling tiles securely installed?

  • Are all large pieces of furnishings/equipment such as bookcases sturdy and secure and not top-heavy?

  • That about wraps it up with enough questions and areas of concern to get you started. Good luck in your search!

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