Take time to look at the stars divider

Now you’re ready to start visiting child care programs. Before you go, make a list of what you want to know about the child care program. Some of these questions might include:

  • Do the program’s philosophies reflect our family values?
  • How will the child care provider involve me in the daily events of my child’s life?
  • Do the hourly, holiday and vacation schedules meet my family’s needs?

Take your child with you when you visit. Visiting in the afternoon is best for talking to the director; visiting in the morning is best for observing teacher-child interactions.

  • Observe all areas where the children are cared for, including outdoor areas.
  • Listen to how the teachers interact with the children.
  • Ask your child if s/he liked visiting and does s/he think it would be fun to go there again.

When observing the program, look for quality indicators that generally foster a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children, including:

Unfortunately, not all programs are safe environments for children. When evaluating a program, it’s also important to look for these danger signals:

  • The child care provider/director discourages parental visits or questions
  • The provider seems harsh or indifferent to children
  • The provider uses corporal punishment, such as spanking, shaking or rough handling
  • The provider spends more time taking care of her own needs than talking and playing with the children
  • There are too few teachers for the number of children in care
  • When you come to get your child or drop off your child, he or she is always with a different teacher or in a different classroom
  • Toys, learning materials and equipment are in short supply and often put out of the reach of children
  • The facility is dirty or unsafe
  • There is a pattern of recurrent accidents or illnesses that seems excessive
  • Children are expected to wait for long periods of time just standing in lines or sitting at tables
  • Your child is still unhappy after a reasonable adjustment period

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Contact Us
Call 1-855-EarlyEd or email

Step Five

Services supported by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education.

Additional support for services in the Triangle provided by Durham County Government, Durham's Partnership for Children - a Smart Start Initiative, the Town of Cary, United Way of the Greater Triangle, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.