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Daycare: Questions to Ask

Group of kids at daycare


Are you licensed?

  • Child care centres in Ontario with more than five children in attendance must obtain a license from the government of Ontario to be legally qualified as a daycare.

What are your hours?

  • What is the late fee for picking children up after hours?

What are your fees?

  • Does this include food costs? Is there a discount for siblings?

Are you an inclusive daycare setting?

  • An inclusive centre will provide care for children of all abilities. Both the physical space and programming should be inclusive of those with special needs.

How many children are currently at the centre?

  • What is the age range of these children?

Do you have a wait list?

Can you provide me with three references?

What are your policies on parents visiting?

  • Are parents able to stay for a period of time with their child on their first day?

Can someone other than immediate family pick up my child?

  • A centre should ask for identification from any individual who is not the primary caregiver.
  • Are parents required to call beforehand to let the centre know that someone other than themselves is picking up the child?

Is part-time care available?

  • What is the cost associated with part-time care?
  • For what part of the day is part-time care available?

Are children required to provide immunization records?

  • Child care centres should have a copy of every child’s immunization records on file.


How is the diapering area sanitized?

  • Diapering areas should be sanitized after each use.
  • Staff members should be required to wear gloves when changing children.
  • Waste should be disposed of in a separate garbage bin.
  • Staff members should wash their hands before and after diapering routines.

Who does the cleaning at the centre?

  • Are staff members responsible for cleaning the centre, or is there a janitorial staff that cleans the centre?

How often are the materials cleaned?

  • All materials must be sanitized at least once a week, but a great centre will sanitize a toy after a child is finished using it.

What types of cleaning products do you use?

  • These products should be used in a correct ratio with water.
  • All cleaning products should be stored in a safe place that is out of reach of children.

Are there smoke detectors and visible fire extinguishers?

Is there a play area indoors and outdoors?

  • The indoor and outdoor play space should be designed so that staff can maintain constant supervision of the children.
  • Equipment indoors and outdoors should be age appropriate and if they are not, they should be inaccessible to younger children.

Is the room separated into different areas?

  • There should be different areas of the room designated for gross motor, dramatic play, and reading activities.

Are there a number of materials available to promote all areas of development (fine motor, gross motor, coginitive, and social and emotional)?

Is the centre child friendly?

  • The centre should be designed with the child in mind. Child sized furniture, age-appropriate books, and materials should be easily accessible.

Is there a sleep schedule posted?

  • It should be recorded when a child went to sleep and when they wake up.

Are the materials and equipment safe and age-appropriate?

  • Materials and equipment should be appropriate for the children – no small objects that a child could choke on, and equipment for older children is out of reach of younger children.

Is there a first aid kit in each room?

  • First aid kits and first aid manuals should be readily available for staff if needed.


What kinds of qualifications do staff members have?

  • Directors and Supervisors should be Early Childhood Educators. The Director should maintain a staff that is capable of providing optimal care for the children.

How many staff members are trained in Early Childhood Education?

  • There should be at least one Early Childhood Educator in each room or age group of children.

What is your staff to child ratio for different ages?

  • Staff ratios with children 18 months and under are 1:3.
  • Staff ration with children 18 months to 30 months are 1:5.
  • Staff ratios with children 30 months and up is 1:8.

Are staff members trained in CPR and First Aid?

  • All staff should have up-to-date first aid and CPR certification.
  • This certification should be specific to children.

Are all staff members required to provide a criminal background check and immunization records?

  • A criminal background check will be conducted on all new employees. Immunization records should be obtained prior to employment. Both should be maintained or renewed annually.

What is your staff turnover rate?

  • Care should be consistent and not include a large amount of staff turnover.

Are staff members required to take any outside professional development courses?

  • Staff members will ideally be encouraged to take outside professional development courses to further their knowledge and stay up-to-date on new practices.

How often are staff members evaluated?

  • Staff should be given a performance evaluation on a yearly basis.

Is there a staff communication binder?

  • Daily written records should be kept. This includes a summary of any incidents affecting the health, safety, or well-being of staff members or any child.

Are staff members trained in emergency exit procedures?

  • Fire drills should be practiced at least once a month.
  • Staff should be knowledgeable about evacuation procedures. These procedures should be posted in each room.
  • Each centre should have a list of emergency phone numbers including the nearest hospital, police department, ambulance service, poison control, and fire department. Phone numbers for each child’s family physician and an emergency contact should also be readily available.

What is the policy for dealing with sick children?

  • Parents should be notified immediately if their child is sick, and the child should be isolated from the other children until their parent can pick them up.
  • Any medications given should require permission from the parents.
  • Any information about the illness should be recorded for later reference (temperature, time, medications given, etc.)

How will my child’s medical needs be met?

  • Procedures for a child with a specific medical need should be reviewed by all employees and staff before they begin their employment.
  • All medication should be stored as instructed and should be kept away from all children.
  • Parental instruction and consent should be given prior to administering medication.


Do you provide children with meals? If so, when is morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack?

Is the food nutritious?

  • Food should be stored, prepared, and served so that it retains its maximum nutritive value. This will also prevent contamination.
  • A healthy diet will consist of a balance of food groups as per recommended by the Canadian Food Guide – this will vary with the child’s age.

How do you accommodate children with special food allergies?

  • Substitutions should be provided for those children who have specific food instructions.
  • The centre should be nut free for those children with allergies.

Are parents given a monthly menu?

  • Menus should be posted or given to parents weekly or monthly and should contain healthy food and a balance of food groups recommended by the Canadian Food Guide.


Describe what an average day is like at the centre?

  • An average day should have time for free play as well as scheduled activities.
  • The activities will be varied and promote child-to-child interaction and staff-to-child interaction.
  • Meal times, sleeping times, and changing times should be clearly laid out.

How are accidents at the centre dealt with?

  • Incident reports should be filled out and noted in a communication binder. Parents should be contacted if necessary, and all first aid measures should be taken to ensure optimal outcomes for the child.

How will my child’s feeding and napping schedule be adhered to?

  • Children over 18 months of age who are in attendance for over six hours should be provided with bedding in the form of a cot. Children under 18 months should be provided with a crib or cradle.

Who does the programming?

  • All programming should be reviewed by the Director and approved.
  • Programming should be done with the child’s developmental needs in mind and should be age-appropriate and engaging.

How often does the programming change?

  • Some centres are theme-based, which allows for programming to be changed on a month-to-month basis. Other centres are child-directed, and the programming will change based on a child’s interests.

Is the centre child-directed or staff-directed?

  • Do children lead the activities and choose their own learning experiences? Or do staff members enforce a strict schedule?

Does the centre follow the Day Nurseries Act?

  • All legitimate child care centres should follow the Day Nurseries Act unless otherwise exempt.
  • The Day Nurseries Act is a set of rules and regulations that child care centres must adhere to. These rules and regulations ensure optimal care of the children at the centre.

Are there written daily updates for parents?

  • Daily updates should be provided. Updates should include information about a child’s sleep, eating, changing, and overall behaviour.

How are new children eased into daycare?

  • Program philosophy and method of operations should be reviewed by parents prior to entering their child into care.
  • New children should be eased into care by making visits with the parents and then on their own for longer periods of time.

Are all types of play promoted?

  • There should be a balance of group and individual activities.
  • Activities should promote gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language and cognitive, and social and emotional development.
  • There should be a balance of active and quiet play.

What is the policy for managing challenging behaviour?

  • Corporal punishment should never be used.
  • Procedures and policies should be in place for discipline, isolation, and punishment and should be reviewed by staff members annually.

Is music included in daily activities?

How do you ensure that all developmental needs are met?

  • Programming should be done with all children’s developmental needs in mind, with adjustments made where necessary for children with differing developmental needs.

Chaya Kulkarni, Ed. D

Carmela Paolozza, BA