Choosing a Childcare Provider

Choosing a Childcare Provider

Finding a childcare facility or family day care home for your child is a very important decision. The following questions and resources may help you as you talk to and visit child care centers before deciding on the right fit for your child:

Is the facility licensed by the State of Florida? Some Florida child care centers also earn a Gold Seal designation, reflecting quality in the level of care and supervision provided to children.  Visit our online search to identify licensed child care providers and see inspection histories.

  • Are all teachers are up-to-date on training requirements?
  • Does the facility meet all staff-to-child ratios?
  • What kind of curriculum do they offer? Is it developmentally appropriate?
  • Does the staff have positive, nurturing interaction with the children?
  • Do the children appear to be happy and comfortable in their surroundings?
  • Are the children constantly supervised? Is each staff member responsible for the same children each day?
  • How do they keep parents informed about their child’s progress and school updates? How frequently are communications sent to parents?
  • Does the facility have clean, safe surroundings?
  • Do they provide healthy, nutritious snacks and/or meals?

Additional information and requirements regarding all the above issues are detailed in the Florida Administrative Code Child Care Standards:

Use the following resources to evaluate the child care facility or home

  • DCF “Know Your Child Care Facility” checklist
  • Quality Checklist: Evaluating Early Learning Programs (Office of Early Learning checklist)
  • Family Guide: Selecting Quality Programs for Children (Office of Early Learning brochure)

General Requirements

Every licensed child care facility must meet the minimum state child care licensing standards pursuant to s. 402.305, F.S., and ch. 65C-22, F.A.C., which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Valid license posted for parents to see.
  • All staff appropriately screened.
  • Maintain appropriate transportation vehicles (if transportation is pro­vided).
  • Provide parents with written disciplinary practices used by the facility.
  • Provide access to the facility during normal hours of operation.
  • Maintain minimum staff-to-child ratios.

Physical Environment

  • Maintain sufficient usable indoor floor space for playing, working, and napping.
  • Provide space that is clean and free of litter and other hazards.
  • Maintain sufficient lighting and inside temperatures.
  • Equipped with age and developmentally appropriate toys.
  • Provide appropriate bathroom facilities and other furnishings.
  • Provide isolation area for children who become ill.
  • Practice proper hand washing, toileting, and diapering activities.

Selecting Summer Care for School-Age Children:

When it’s time to select summer care for school children, there are many factors to consider. Use this checklist of questions as a guide for ensuring that you and your child have a safe and productive summer! Take time to learn about each summer care program you are considering.  Many options exist, including school-based programs, parks & recreation, churches, youth service agencies, family child care homes, specialty camps, child care centers, etc. Make sure your decision is a QUALITY

decision for you and your child.

What are the program’s health, safety and nutrition policies and procedures?

  • Ask about the sign-in/sign-out policies, medication policy, discipline policy, lifeguard certification/water safety policy, field trip & transportation policies, handling of sick children, and missing children policy. Ask if the program follows any established nutritional guidelines. Ask if their policies are in writing and if their facility meets local and state legal requirements.
  • Is staff screened? Have the owner/operator/director/employees/volunteers been fingerprinted as required by law? Has the camp conducted a check of local law enforcement records, national and statewide criminal history check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Florida Department of Law Enforcement for all of the staff and volunteers? What additional screening methods does the program use?
  • What are the staff/child ratios and group sizes of the program? Florida’s maximum staff-to-child ratio for school-age children is 1-to-25. National quality standards recommend between 1-to-8 and 1-to-15 for children age 5-teens, and group sizes no larger than 30.
  • Is staff well-trained? Ask about staff experience and education in early childhood/school-age care, recreation, serving children with special needs, CPR/First Aid/Lifeguarding and if appropriately licensed when transporting children.
  • Is the program licensed or accredited?  Summer programs are not required to be licensed or accredited. Licensure and accreditation ensure that basic health and safety standards are met. Accreditation often requires additional quality standards.
  • Are parents welcome to visit at all times? Are family activities offered?  Programs should be accessible and welcoming to parents and families at all times.
  • Is there a daily lesson plan? Ask to review a typical lesson plan. Quality programs provide more than continuous free play.  Plans should be consistent with the philosophy of the program and should include indoor, outdoor, quiet, active, staff-planned, child-initiated and free choice activities.
  • Is the facility adequate for the number of children enrolled?  Is there enough room for all program activities? Outdoor programs should include indoor or sheltered areas for resting, respite from the sun and for bad weather days.
  • What are the hours of operation, fees and payment procedures?  Do drop off and pick up hours and procedures ensure that your child is receiving proper adult supervision? Are there fees for enrollment, special activities, late pickups or late payments?

This information is sponsored by the Shiner Law Group.  If any situations arise where you feel the need for legal counsel, contact an accident attorney with the Shiner Law Group as soon as possible to learn of your legal options. Have Questions? Call Us 24/7 561-368-3363, TOLL FREE: 855-368-3363