Daycare Checklist

What parents should look for when searching for a daycare


Finding a daycare that is a good fit for your child is one of the most important choices we make as parents. This daycare checklist provides information that may help you make that key decision. The daycare checklist includes questions to ask the staff as well as what to watch for while touring daycare center facilities.


Touring each daycare center is important! We recommend visiting the daycare center more than once to see if your perception has changed. Don’t forget to bring your daycare checklist with you at all return visits to observe any modifications from your last visit.


Use this daycare checklist tool along with references from other parents in the area, interviews with other parents attending the center, state background checks and your mother’s or father’s instinct to decide on the best daycare center for your child.


Daycare checklist:



Questions to ask:

o·····What ages are accepted?

o·····What time can I drop my child off?

o·····What is the latest time that I can pick up my child?

o·····What holidays are you closed?

o·····Do you have space available for my child?

o·····Can I choose from a full-time or part-time schedule?

o·····If my child attends daycare part-time, do I need a set schedule?

o·····Can I visit the facility without an appointment?

o·····Do you have a list of references that I can call?


What to look for:

o·····Does someone answer phone calls promptly?

o·····Is a director conveniently available to answer questions?





Questions to ask:

o·····Are you licensed and accredited?

o·····How long has your facility been providing daycare?

o·····What is the caregiver to child ratio?

o·····Does your staff have training in early childhood development?

o·····Are teachers trained in first aid and CPR?

o·····What is your staff turnover?

o·····Are background checks completed on staff members?


What to look for:

o·····Is there a certification license posted?

o·····Are there any state violations posted?





Questions to ask:

o·····Are nap times provided? What time and where?

o·····What activities will be available for my child?

o·····Will my child go on field trips outside the facility?

o·····Is there an education curriculum?

o·····How much time do they watch television during the day?

o·····Do you offer transportation?· If so, from what schools or locations?


What to look for:

o·····What activities are children doing?





Questions to ask:

o·····Are meals provided by the daycare?

o·····Are snacks provided by the daycare?

o·····Are they nutritious meals and snacks?

o·····Do they allow for special needs diets?

o·····Are parents given a monthly menu?

o·····Do you have adequate storage for breast milk?


What to look for:

o·····Are the kitchen and eating areas clean?

o·····Is breast milk labeled?

o·····Are food allergies noted for teachers?





Questions to ask:

o·····How are they disciplined?

o·····How do you handle toilet training?


What to look for:

o·····Are the children given lots of love and encouragement?

o·····How does staff interact with children?





Questions to ask:

o·····Do you have an outdoor playground?

o·····Are there personal cribs for each infant?

o·····Are there separate rooms for each age group?

o·····Is the staff allowed to smoke on facility premises?

o·····Are animals allowed on premise? (at-home daycares only)

o·····Are there provisions for children with special needs?


What to look for:

o·····What toys and activities are available?

o·····Does the center look well-kept?





Questions to ask:

o·····What is your sick policy?

o·····What do you do if my child becomes sick at daycare?

o·····What is your policy for handling falls or incidents?

o·····Are immunizations required?

o·····Do you dispense medication only with a parent or doctor’s signature?





Questions to ask:

o·····Is there a safety plan in place in case of an emergency?

o·····Are there restrictions on who may pick up my child?

o·····Are these restrictions confirmed?

o·····Are parents called when a child does not show up at the appropriate time?

o·····Does the playground equipment meet safety standards?

o·····Are hazardous materials kept out of reach of children?

o·····Is there a first aid kit?

o·····Do they have smoke detectors?

o·····Are fire exits marked and caregivers knowledgeable in a fire safety plan?


What to look for:

o·····Are safety gates working?

o·····Does the playground equipment look safe?

o·····Where are smoke detectors?

o·····Where are hazardous materials?

o·····Are fire exits marked?

o·····Are heating vents and radiators covered or inaccessible to children?





Questions to ask:

o·····How often are toys washed? What do you use to clean them?

o·····Do caregivers use gloves when handling food and when changing diapers?

o·····Are children taught to wash their hands before eating and after using the toilet?


What to look for:

o·····Does the facility look clean and composed during an unexpected visit?

o·····Are toys and furniture in good condition and up-to-date?

o·····Are caregivers using gloves?

o·····Is soap and paper towels provided in each restroom?





Questions to ask:

o·····How do I register my child?

o·····I am pregnant. How do I reserve a space for my infant? 

o     Do you have a waiting list?

o·····What are your daycare fees for full-time? Part-time?

o·····Do you accept any kind of financial aid?

o     What kinds of payments do you accept?

o·····Is there a reduction in fees if my child takes vacation?

o·····Is there a sibling discount?

o·····What is the fee for picking up my child late?


Before you make a decision on a daycare facility, don’t forget to factor in how convenient the center is to your work or home. Decide who will be dropping off and picking up your child and figure out if the daycare center’s location and hours provide enough travel time. Remember to include extra travel time for a late meeting or inclement weather.