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Every parent has concerns about childcare.  Even if the childcare center or home has a good reputation and comes highly recommended, parents should investigate carefully and continue to monitor their children’s care. 

There are some warning signs to watch out for when it comes to childcare.  Keep these things in mind when you visit the center or daycare home:

1.  Lax rules or none at all.  If the children seem to be running wild, climbing on furniture, or being extremely loud when you come and go, the childcare provider may not have rules in place or may not enforce them.  This could lead to behavior you don’t approve of and more importantly it could lead to injuries. 

2.  There seems to be too many children per adult.  While state laws may vary, a general rule is that for every adult there should be no more than two babies, five preschoolers, and two school-aged children.  Still, nine children are a lot for one person to care for effectively.  If the provider continues accepting more and more children until you feel there are too many for your child to receive proper attention, consider finding someone else.

3.  There are too many people in and out.  If there seem to be a lot people besides staff, other parents, or a home provider’s immediate family coming and going, this may not be an appropriate situation for your child. 

4.  The areas children spend time in appear unclean or unsafe.  Obviously children can be messy, but if the childcare home or center was sparkling clean when you signed up but is obviously less well maintained over time, your child may be spending his or her days in an unhealthy, unsafe environment.  Anyone can put on their best when they know someone is observing, but if general upkeep is shoddy, it will show up over time. 

5. There are is no childproofing or emergency equipment.  Childcare homes and centers should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and should be properly childproofed.  Electrical outlets should be fitted with proper protection, there shouldn’t be extension cords in children’s reach, and properly installed baby gates or locked doors should keep children from dangerous areas such as stairways. 

Pay attention to these things and learn to spot other warning signs such as a frazzled caregiver, unhappy children, or anything else that gives you cause for concern.  Listen to your instincts and if anything makes you uncomfortable, look for another childcare provider.