Child Care: Preschool Family Care
What is family care?
Family care is done by providers who are licensed to care for children in their home. The caregiver is often a mother with her own small children.
Family child care providers are licensed by the state. The states also have rules about the number of adults needed to take care of a certain number of children. Generally, a child care home should not have more than 6 children per adult caregiver, including the caregiver's own children. No caregiver working alone should care for more than 2 children who are under 2 years of age.
Ask the Child Care Provider:
- Can you tell me more about your background and experience?
- What are some reasons you enjoy taking care of children? Do you have children of your own?
- How will my child be transported if you leave the house?
- What are your expectations regarding length of commitment?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have any health problems?
- Have you had training in first aid?
- What kinds of activities might you plan for my child?
- What are your views on discipline? Meals? Television? Playmates?
- What would you do if . . . ? (Give examples relevant to your situation: medical and personal emergencies, common problems with child.)
- Can you give me several references?
- May I have a tour of your home?
- Are you trained in first aid?
- Do you have a current licensing permit?
- What are the tuition payments? When are they due?
- What are the hours? Holiday and vacation schedule?
- Are there extra charges for such things as meals or transportation?
- Are fees reduced if more than one child enrolls?
- Are deductions offered for periods of absence?
- What is the caregiver to child ratio? Federal guidelines for centers suggest no more than 1:3 for infants 1:4 for toddlers 1:8 for children aged 3 to 6.
- What is the procedure for medical emergencies?
- What are the policies regarding illness? (for example, are parents contacted if another child has a contagious disease? Does caregiver have someone to substitute in case she gets sick?)
- What questions do you have for me?
Observe or Ask About:
Does the home have:
- ample toys and art materials?
- plenty of indoor and outdoor space?
- special areas for quiet and active play?
- safe, creative outdoor play equipment?
- a quiet place for homework?
- places to practice extracurricular skills (sports, music, dance)?
- smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Regular fire drills? Alternate exits?
Does the caregiver:
- welcome my questions and suggestions?
- share my childrearing philosophy?
- take time to share my child's experiences with me?
- really listen and talk to the children?
- sensitively handle feelings of fear, shyness, upset, and anger?
- respect each child's unique background and interests?
- guide rather than direct behavior?
- seem cheerful, affectionate, and warm?
- have training and experience in early child education?
- establish and consistently maintain limits?
Does the program:
- provide daily outdoor activities?
- balance active, physical activities with quiet, restful ones?
- provide ample rest and nap times?
- prohibit play that could quickly get out of hand?
- maintain an adequate staff/child ratio on the playground?
- help children deal with feelings constructively?
- provide security through a well-defined, predictable schedule of daily activities?
- show children how to help themselves as much as possible?
- allow children to pursue some activities without being disturbed by other youngsters?
- provide plenty of time for children to complete their projects?
- provide plenty of "hands on" learning experiences?
- furnish an environment rich with science materials, books, building equipment, musical instruments, toy and art materials, props for dramatic play, natural materials like sand, water, and clay?
- balance structured and unstructured activities?
- design step by step goals for each child?
- plan field trips or invite special visitors?
Health and Safety
- Is each child required to have an up-to-date immunization record?
- Does the facility meet state standards for how many children can be taken care of by one adult?
- Are staff and children taught to wash hands with soap and water after diaper changes or contact with body fluids?
- What is the procedure for medical emergencies?
- What are the policies regarding illness? (for example, are parents contacted if another child has a contagious disease? )
- Is the staff trained in first aid?
- Are important phone numbers posted near the phone? (Examples include police, fire, poison control center, hospital, children's physician, ambulance.)
- Does my caregiver always know how to get in touch with both parents?
- Does my child receive appropriate supervision?
- Can all doors in the center be opened from the outside at all times?
- Do all glass doors have decals?
- Are the rooms well ventilated and comfortable year-round?
- Are the bathroom facilities clean and easily accessible to children?
- Are stairways and walkways free from clutter?
- Are dangerous items out of reach or locked in a cupboard, drawer, or cabinet?
- Are floors free from spills, slippery surfaces, or small throw rugs?
- Are toys safe, clean, and in good repair?
- Is your child safe around pets? Are pet dishes out of reach?
- Are play surfaces, indoors and out, softened with carpeting or wood chips?
- Do children seem safe with one another?
- Is the outdoor area fenced and free of hazards?
- Is the play equipment safe and appropriate for your child's level of development?
- Are healthy snacks or meals served?
- Are children allowed to leave food on their plates? (They should never be forced to eat.)
- Are portions small and second helpings available?
- Is the kitchen clean?
Written by Donna Warner Manczak, PhD, MPH.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-28
Last reviewed: 2009-05-26
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.