Daycare Comparison Checklist

Wondering how to find the right daycare program for your child — a reliable program you can trust? You’re not alone. Parents nationwide are looking for daycare they can feel great about.

 

With so many daycare centers out there, how should you begin to narrow down the options around you? When you start your research, you’ll get a feel for what each facility offers — and what they might be lacking. After you find a few options to consider, it’s time for a daycare comparison. We’ve pulled together a daycare comparison checklist to help you figure out which center lines up with your standards and expectations.

Children playing in Early Learning Center

Daycare Comparison Checklist: 7 Factors to Consider 

When you’re looking for a high-quality daycare program, what should you include on your daycare comparison checklist? Here are the top things to consider before enrolling your child in an early learning center or daycare

Licensing and Accreditation 

First up: make sure each daycare follows state licensing requirements. Some centers go above and beyond state licensing with accreditation — the highest quality centers will be accredited by a national organization, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  

Staff Experience and Education 

What are the teachers’ credentials? How long have they been in the early education field? What about the center leadership team — how experienced are they? Ask about early childhood education training, certifications, degrees, and years of experience, and confirm that all staff members are trained in CPR and First Aid.  

Retention and Turnover 

Next on your daycare comparison checklist: Ask if employees tend to stick around. Some centers might have teachers who have been there for years (or even decades!) — this shows that they’re loyal to the center and, likely, love teaching.  

Be sure to ask about turnover rate, too. High turnover can be a red flag — it can indicate poor management, high stress, a poor work environment, and more. However, daycare centers may not want to talk about turnover. If this is the case, ask around your area instead — social media groups, neighbors, coworkers, or online.  

References and Testimonials 


Ask potential daycare centers if they have parent references you can speak to — hearing about another family’s experience can give you a sneak peek into what your child’s and your family’s experience might be like.  

Testimonials are powerful, too. See what parents have said about their experience at the center, what they wish was different, and so on.  

Supervision 

Ask about staff-to-child ratios for each group and observe classrooms — children should be well supervised while still able to express independence, take healthy risks, and gain valuable developmental skills.  

Engagement  

Your daycare comparison checklist should also include positive teacher-child interactions. Daycare staff should be attentive, caring, and able to keep children engaged throughout the day. Watch how teachers interact with the children in their care, and see if you can picture your child in that same environment.  

Diversity and Inclusion 

Last, but certainly not least: high-quality daycare programs embrace diversity and inclusion. Look for examples of this as you tour different centers. Ask about curriculum and whether it explores different cultures; ask about holiday celebrations (or lack thereof); and ask how individual differences are celebrated.  

Another daycare visit question to add to your list: do teachers and staff go through a training program on diversity and inclusion, and do they have the classroom resources they need to create an inclusive community?  

Child care FAQ

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Bright Horizons is a United States–based child-care provider and is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care. Employees looking to become a child care teacher are offered the opportunity to earn an early education degree for free as part of their corporate benefits. Search by zip to find a child care center near you. Bright Horizons Global Headquarters are in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.