Evaluating a Child-Care Center

Putting your newborn in someone else’s care is a big decision and one that you will want to take great care in making. Whether you’re having to return to work or you just need care for a day, these are things to consider when leaving your baby at a child-care center.

Evaluate the Setting

1. Does the center have a license that meets state regulations?
2. Does the care provider have adequate education, training, and proper credentials?
3. Ask for references from past employers or other parents.
4. Does the care provider have procedures in case of emergency?
5. Is the center safe? (Covered outlets, no sharp corners, cleaners out of reach, etc.)
6. Inquire into sanitary procedures. Do staff and children wash their hands regularly, and particularly after diaper changes or before food preparation?
7. Have fire extinguishers been inspected recently and have smoke detectors been installed?
8. Do they have liability insurance?

Evaluate the Care Providers

1. Are the staff members friendly and helpful?
2. Do you trust them?
3. Do the care providers treat the children as individuals?
4. Are they involved with the children or do they just provide basic needs?
5. Do they show patience with the children?
6. Do they have a sense of humor and seem warm and affectionate?
7. Are they in good physical condition and able to play with the children?
8. Do you approve of their methods of toilet training and other self-help skills?
9. Are their philosophical or religious beliefs compatible with yours?
10. Do they seem open to communication with you?

Evaluate the Environment and Program

1. Is the atmosphere cheerful and pleasant?
2. Is there an adequate play area — both indoors and outside?
3. Are there adequate toys, which are clean and well-maintained?
4. Are activities and rest periods scheduled or flexible?
5. Are the activities creative and interesting?
6. Is there a drop-in policy for parents?
7. Is there a mechanism for the home/day-care transition and vice versa?
8. Can this provider and setting allow personal attention for your child?

Hands holding newborn

To learn more see our Pregnancy Guide


  1. Thanks for going over some things that could be worth keeping in mind or asking a child-care center. You mentioned that you should ask about the sanitary procedures and if they wash their hand regularly. It seems like this could be one of the first things to ask, or maybe even see if you can see the area to get an idea on how well kept the place is.

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