What to Look for in a Potential Provider

1.  The program should be appropriately licensed or registered
Child care homes in Iowa:
Not required to be registered if they care for fewer than six children
Must be registered if they care for six or more children
Child care centers in Iowa: Must be licensed
*In addition to verifying that a program is licensed or registered, you should also check to make sure there are no open investigations or numerous violations against the child care providers you are considering.

2.  The program should adhere to state mandated ratios (number of children per provider)
            For children in Iowa child care centers:
                        2 weeks-2 years                1 provider for every  4 children
                        2 years old                         1 provider for every 6 children
                        3 years old                         1 provider for every 8 children
                        4 years old                         1 provider for every 12 children
                        5-10 years old                    1 provider for every 15 children
                        10+ years old                     1 provider for every 20 children
*Note: the required ratio may vary depending on several factors including: when children of various ages are grouped together, nap time, or when children are being transported.

3.  The home or center should be neat and clean
If children are playing and learning, there will always be a certain amount of mess.  You want your child’s caregiver to be focused on him during the day and not cleaning.  However, the child care facilities should be cleaned regularly.  You shouldn’t have to wonder when the last time the bathrooms were cleaned or the carpets vacuumed.

4.  The home or center should provide a safe environment for your child
The child care facility should be well-maintained and the safety of your child should be the provider’s number one priority.  Loose flooring, uncovered outlets, and unlocked cabinets are all signs that indicate you should probably find another provider.

5.  The program should have appropriate activities and curriculum
The definition of “appropriate” activities varies based on the age of the children and their level of development.  Providers should not be expecting children to do things of which they aren’t capable.  For example, toddlers shouldn’t be expected to sit still for long periods of time, walk in a single file line, or eat neatly with a fork and spoon.  Make sure the activities your child is doing during the day seem suitable for your child’s level of development.