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What to Look for When Visiting a Childcare Center or Preschool

What to Look for When Visiting a Childcare Center or Preschool

Finding good child care is hard. You usually need to find a program that is available immediately, affordable, and close to your home or work. But it is definitely worth the extra time to find the right program for your child. In addition to knowing that the people caring for your child will treat him/her as you do, it’s important to know how they will help your child learn. Here’s what to look for when visiting a prospective childcare center or preschool.



• Is the program’s license displayed in a visible location?

• Do they have a Keystone STARS rating of 3 or 4? If not, do they have another accreditation?


Health & Safety

Do bathroom and food preparation areas look and smell clean?

• Are there obvious health and safety hazards?

• Are fire extinguishers and a fire-escape/emergency evacuation plan visible?


Classroom Organization

Are there soft spaces for reading, relaxing and quiet games as well as spaces for active play?

• Are toys and materials developmentally appropriate and accessible?

• Is the quantity of toys and materials sufficient?

• Are the classroom furnishings child sized?

• Are toys and materials respectful of children’s culture/ethnicity?

• Are staff and children’s names posted in the room?


Child/Staff Interaction

Do the children seem occupied, happy and engaged?

• Are children allowed to make choices throughout the day?

• Are staff in ratio? (infants, 1:4; young toddlers 1:5; older toddlers 1:6; preschool 1:10)

• Does each child receive individual attention?

• Does staff seem respectful, patient and receptive to children’s needs?

• Does staff appear lively, smiling and positive?

• Does staff sit and eat family style with children to encourage learning?


Outdoor Play

Do children have an opportunity to play outside each day?

• Is outside play equipment sturdy and in good repair?

• Are children supervised by staff at all times?

• Do toddlers play separately from the older children?

• Are outside areas for learning activities as well as free play?


Director & Staff Qualifications

Is a copy of the director’s degree posted inside or outside the office?

• Has the director completed the PA Director Credential?

• Is the education level of staff posted?

• Does staff have experience and education in early childhood development?

• Does staff have current pediatric first-aid and fire safety certification?

• Is ongoing training available?


Parent Involvement

Are parents welcomed in the program? Are they respected?

• Does staff communicate daily with parents about their child?

• Is an observation completed within 45 days of a child’s entry in the program?

• Are results shared with parents, and used for individual child planning and referral to community resources?


More information

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.

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