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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:

Home

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?

Caregiver

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?

Program

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?

Meals

  • 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.

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