questionswhat do you look for in a child care facility?


Congrats! You're in for the ride of your life.

I'd look for personal recommendations from people in your area. Someone who uses a specific place and loves it means way more than general rankings. And they can tell you why it is so good.



Recommendations from people you know are great but don't just blindly accept them. Always check out the facility and drop in at odd times on several occasions, not just when they are offering to take you on a tour.

We have had home daycare and daycare facilities look after our boys and there are good and bad in both types. If you go with a home daycare, make sure that you have a backup in case they are unavailable. We have horror stories and happy stories for both styles.

Good luck.



Make sure the staff has been background checked first. If not then walk away. Also, make sure the director isn't starting fires in the supply closet while the children are in the building. Yes, that actually happened at the day care we had in California. Ask about the staff's credentials and education. Are they people that walked in off the street and were looking for a minimum wage job dealing with needy bundles of energy or do they have some education/training in early childhood development? It can be a bit scary deciding who is going to be watching your children. We ended up opting for me to quit my decent job and stay home with our son until he was old enough for school.


Drop in unannounced. In one of our perspectives we came across a class of unsupervised 4 year olds.
We settled on one that has a secure online web cam.
Mommy's ALWAYS watching.
Realistically that was the only way I felt that I could be sure that they were receiving proper care.


Child care, check your state DSS/DFS for violations. That's what we did. Most states are on-line. Start there then dig deeper.


@pitamuffin: We are asking all of our friends, just trying to get my hands on as much info as possible.

@theoneill555: Oh, I didn't think about a backup thats great advice. Do you want to share the lessons from any of the stories either good or bad?

@zuiquan: Background checks are high on the list. If someone was starting fires inside a building with my child in it, I think I would come unglued on them. I wish we were in a position to allow my wife to stay home. We are discussing alternate shifts so that one of us could be at home at all times, not sure if we will be able to make that work or not.

@mrsbeny: Is it common for them to have web cams or is that something you were just lucky enough to stumble on? I like the idea of being able to check up on them whenever.


@xarous: I am pouring through the violations data from here. It seems none have a perfectly clean record, but there are several that are standing out on having very few problems. I can not find a lot of data here on what the specific vilation was though so it's hard to determine what the actual violation was. A facility might have a Food Services violation. That violation could be anything from not having a menu posted, to not having additional servings available, to undercooked food, to toxic items stored with food. Outside of just the number of violations it is hard to determine if there is a severe issue with a provider.


@ruger9mm: We looked for the big stuff, or the things that happened a lot. Improper hiring, building issues, checked news archives, then we randomly dropped in on centers from there, with or without the kids.

In the end we went with a woman whom had a center built onto her home. One of the cleanest, friendliest centers. We reviewed and inspected for months before we felt comfortable, due to issues of a previous provider that we didn't do enough homework on.

Small things happen and accidents too. I wish you the best and congratulations on the impending birth. I am glad you are doing your homework/groundwork now. Kudos!


Congratulations!! We just had out first in September and I remember the daycare process very clearly.

Here are a few of the datapoints that we considered:
- Safety First - How do they control access, is the place clean, how does the staff treat the children, etc.
- What does the daycare provide? Daycares are already costly, but some provide extras that may cut down on your time and costs (i.e. wipes, food)
- What is the daycare's vacation policy? At some you still have to pay even when your child does not attend (to hold the spot)
- Do they intend to educate your child, or just watch your child? Even though our son is less than 6 months old, our daycare does a number of sensory learning events like finger painting, reading, colors...
- What is the daycare's sick policy? Some are more strict than others, find one that works for you.
- This is moreso for when your child is older, How do they handle situations requiring discipline?
- Randomly stop in (like others have suggested)


@ruger9mm: Child care regs are rigorous and it's quite common for even excellent child cares to have minor violations. Quick correction of findings is probably a better barometer of the agency's drive for excellence. You might also look for extra accreditation. Here in Texas we have special status called Texas Rising Star for child cares that meet extra standards of training and curriculum. Check to see if your state has similar programs. Another thing to ask about is staff to child ratios. Once the child is older you are going to want to look at developmental curriculum and outdoor play time. But for little babies you mostly want a very nurturing atmosphere and a high staff-to-child ratio permits that.


We had slim pickings and had one bad sitter after another.
Ask the sitter how long she has had each kid. Ask for references. Like any product referral try to gauge the author of the referral. Think Amazon reviewers.
Trust your instinct. One of our sitters we pulled after a week. Few months later the house was part of a drug raid.
We tried a new sitter with low nick knacks we told her that was a bad idea, she said she would move them, she quit after a day, I wonder how much he broke that day.
Pay attention to how the kids react to the sitter, (not fair if it is a new kid, but the kids who have been there a while).
We did city daycare, with security cameras, because we had enough.
Then we found the perfect sitter recommended by others, she was full when we found her but she had 2 little ones moving on.
Be prepared:
Now sitters get vacation time and if you take vacation they still get paid.


@ruger9mm: our HR person used to run a day care and sent me this pretty awesome checklist:


I'd look at or similar sites for one-on-one care. I have an 8 month old now, and was a nanny for a few years once upon a time. You can do background checks, and personally interview care providers. Care for babies in daycare facilities is particularly expensive because the provider to child ratio is lower, but your baby will still not be the only for them to attend to.

If you look for one-on-one care, don't try to add a chore list to the duties. The focus for both of you should be childcare, not getting a bonus maid. Trust your instincts. If someone has a great background check and driving record and still you feel they're somehow "off" in an interview, cross them off the list. Make sure they will respect your parenting choices and follow them. Even if you want your child to wear mismatched socks every other Tuesday, you're the parent and what you say goes. Good luck.