CHECKLIST FOR FAMILY DAY
It you need to find care for your child, one possibility is a family day
care home. This type of care is generally provided in a private home,
often times by the parent of a small child or two. A family day care home
may offer a more relaxed, home-like style of care than a center, with more
flexible schedule and a less formal relationship with parents.
Family day care providers are much more than babysitters. They should
provide all the safety, warmth, and learning opportunities as a child care
center but do it in a home environment. Check your state's regulations to
find the number of children that can be cared for in a family day care
When choosing a family day care home, it is important to find a setting
with which you are comfortable. The provider should share your attitudes
and values about children. Plan to visit the home to talk and observe them
with the children.
To find a family day care home: contact the licensing bureau for child
care in your state for a list of licensed providers in your area; look
through newspaper ads; talk to family, friends, or neighbors. Select a
home that is licensed or registered. Here's what you should be looking
1. Name/and address/phone number of home
2. Hours center is open
3. Fees charged
4. Ages of children licensed for
5. Care of sick children?
6. Location easy to reach?
For the following items, use a rating of:
0 Can't tell
1 No, not in the home
3 Yes, in the home
PHYSICAL FACILITY/HEALTH, SAFETY
__ The home is reasonably clean and
__ No children are seen with soiled diapers or training pants.
__ Detergents, cleaners, and medicines are in a locked cabinet.
__ Electrical outlets are covered with safety caps.
__ Household items like knives, scissors, curling irons are stored out of
reach of children.
__ Toys and equipment are in good repair with no sharp edges, splinters,
or loose parts.
__ There is a quiet area that can be darkened for naps with clean bedding
for each child.
__ The toileting area is easy for the children to get to with potty
chairs, safe steps, or whatever is needed.
__ There is an area of the home where children can play out of the way of
other family members.
__ There is a fenced, outdoor play area in which the caregiver can see all
areas of the yard easily.
__ The home is warm, cheerful, and inviting.
__ The caregiver spends time with the
children rather than ignoring them to carry out household duties or talk
on the telephone.
__ The caregiver provides individual attention when needed. For example,
an upset child is held, talked to, etc.
__ You can see the caregiver praising the children, for example, saying
"You did a good job hanging up your coat."
__ You can see the caregiver communicating effectively with the children,
explaining in clear steps what she/he wants the children to do, answering
children's questions patiently, frequently bending or kneeling down to the
child's level when talking.
__ The children appear happy, comfortable, and relaxed - laughing,
smiling, involved in play.
__ The children enjoy one another - smile at each other, hold hands, hug,
help each other more than they fight or argue.
__ The caregiver uses the children's first names or nicknames when talking
to or about them. She/he does not refer to the children by unpleasant
names, such as "smarty" or "brat" etc.
__ The caregiver seems warm and affectionate with the children, smiling,
cuddling, speaking pleasantly.
__ The caregiver encourages children to do some things for themselves,
patiently giving time, help, and praise so that the child can learn to
master the skill, such as getting a drink, washing hands, putting away a
__ The caregiver holds infants when feeding them rather than propping up
__ The caregiver talks to infants, cuddles, and plays with them during the
day. Infants are not left alone for long periods.
__ The caregiver is a person you would like your child to copy or imitate.
In other words, children are apt to "do as the caregiver does, more
than what she/he says."
__ Attractive and well-written story and
picture books are available for the children.
__ The caregiver encourages listening and talking through planned
activities like storytelling, word games, doll playing.
__ The home has materials for quiet play, such as puzzles, and active
play, such as riding toys.
__ Children can get at least some materials for themselves, and they are
encouraged to take care of the materials and put them away when finished.
__ There are enough toys and materials so that each child can play without
having to wait more than a few minutes.
__ The caregiver encourages both boys and girls to play with all the
materials - such as riding toys, dress-up clothes, dolls, cars, and
trucks. Caregivers do not give children the idea that a certain activity
is only for boys or only for girls.
__ Children sometimes can use creative materials, such as crayons, big
blank pieces of paper rather than coloring books, paste, clay or playdough,
scissors, pencils, etc.
__ Three or more of the following toys are available for the children's
use: large and small riding toys, pull toys, pounding toys, beads for
stringing, puzzles, small and large blocks, nested toys, small building
toys like Tinkertoys.
__ Children may watch only appropriate television programs and are not
forced or encouraged to sit in front of the TV for long periods.
__ The caregiver plans at least one activity for the children each day
that your child would enjoy.
__ The caregiver can tell you what meals
and snacks will be served to the children this week.
__ The menus sound nutritious and contain foods your child likes.
__ If you have an infant, the caregiver refrigerates infant bottles and
foods and will feed according to your directions.
__ If possible, ask what the caregiver does if a child does not like a
certain food being served to see if you agree with his/her method.
__ The caregiver uses discipline and guidance methods similar to your own
and is consistent and fair with the children.
__ The caregiver answers questions in a friendly, open way.
__ You feel comfortable and could expect to share concerns about your
child with the caregivers.
Total Score ____
YOUR COMMENTS AND THOUGHTS
1. Overall, how do you feel about this
2. Overall, how would your child feel about this place?
The total score reflects both how good or poor the program is and how much
you were able to observe. In general, go by the following:
100-123 points - EXCELLENT PROGRAM, worth getting on a waiting list to
enroll your child.
80-100 points - GOOD PROGRAM, worth serious consideration.
60-80 points - POSSIBLY ADEQUATE, think this over carefully though.
40-60 points - LOOK ELSEWHERE.
0-40 points - DEFINITELY OUT, probably in violation of licensing
If you have a lot of items on the checklist with 0 points because you were
not able to tell, then this will lower the overall score a lot. In this
case, look at how you scored the rest of the items.
If most of your other scores are "3's", then this could be a
very good program despite the fact that the total score is lower than it
Above all, trust your own judgment and feeling about a program. You know
your child best and can tell which program will be right for your family.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
Kees-Martin, S. (1981). Checklist for family day care homes
Reno, NV: University of Nevada Reno, Cooperative Extension.