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Checklists for Parents when Choosing Childcare

The Full Handbook Can be Reviewed Here

Health and Safety

  • Is the child care program licensed under the Early Learning and Child Care Act? Licensed programs are required to post their licence certificate in a prominent place in the centre where parents can see it. You can also ask them to confirm if they are licensed under the Act.
    • Daycare, preschool and out-of-school care programs are required to have a licence.
    • Family day home programs operate under licensed family day home agencies that monitor to ensure they are meeting standards for safety and quality. Family day home programs can provide child care for up to 6 children, not including their own.
    • Unlicensed providers can provide child care for up to 6 children, not including their own. However, the Alberta government does not monitor unlicensed providers or any networks, associations or organizations that provide support for unlicensed providers.
  • Do the provider, educators, and any adults who will be in the centre or home with children have a current criminal record check, including a vulnerable sector search? This is especially important if you are choosing unlicensed care.
    • If you are considering an unlicensed provider, we encourage you to visit the home when it is operating.
    • Typically, unlicensed providers will welcome parents into their home during operating hours. If this is not a policy of the provider, consider choosing this provider with caution.
  • Does the child care program have up-to-date CPR, first aid training and health and safety plans?
  • Is the provider connected to any support associations or networks?
  • Is the facility or home and all the equipment (indoor and outdoor) clean and in good condition?
  • Is the outdoor play space fenced in?
  • Are there locks on the medicine cabinets?
  • Are the stairs secured with gates?
  • Are cleaning supplies kept out of reach?
  • Was the policy regarding sick children discussed with you? For example, if children have a fever or other symptoms of a communicable disease, are they sent home? How does the program isolate sick children from other children until the parents can pick them up?
  • How many children are cared for at one time? How many staff per child are present?
  • Is there a hand washing policy?
  • Do staff and children wash their hands before and after diapering or toileting?
  • Where do children sleep during naptime?
  •  Does the agency or centre provide any information about past inspections or incidents?
    • Licensed child care programs are required to post recent inspection reports that outline any non-compliances and the actions required to rectify them. 
  • For unlicensed care, call Child Care Connect at 1-844-644-5165 to see if the Alberta government has issued any stop orders in the last 24 months on an unlicensed home you maybe considering.
Nutrition and Mealtime 

• Does the program provide meals and snacks? Is the menu posted?

• Does the menu offer healthy food choices?

• Does food for all children meet the standards in Canada’s Food Guide ( or Alberta’s Nutritional Food Guidelines 

• Do the program educators or staff sit with children during meals?

Activities and Play Materials

• What training and experience does the provider or educators have?

• What type of programming does the centre offer? Examples include Flight curriculum, Montessori, Reggio etc…

• Is a schedule posted, and is it followed daily?

• Is there time for both children and program educators or centre staff to pick activities?

• Is there time in the schedule for indoor and outdoor play?

• Are there lots of play areas available for children to explore?

• Is there enough space for children to engage in active play?

• Is there a lot of time to play in these areas each day?

• Are materials and equipment age-appropriate?

• Are the materials and equipment in good condition?

• Are there enough toys for the number of children?

Relationships & Parent Engagement

• Do the providers or educators play with children?

• What can the centre or home provider tell you about the play, learning, and care activities they will do with your child?

• What is the centre or home provider’s approach to child guidance?

• How do the centre staff or home provider engage with the children? Are they warm and caring?

• Do they model appropriate behaviour? Are children and adults respectful to other children and adults?

• Are centre staff or the home provider trained in early childhood development? What is their experience?

• Do the home provider or centre staff communicate well with parents and guardians?

• Are the rules and expectations for the children simple and clear?

• Has the provider or centre staff explained their child care agreement with you? (Most child care programs have policies related to illness, cancellations, payment, etc. and it is important that you clearly understand all of these policies.)

• How are parents encouraged to become involved in their child’s care?

For Infants

• Are infants held and carried frequently?

• Do the program educators respond quickly to infants cries?

• Do the program educators frequently talk with, sing to, and read to infants?

• Do the program educators adjust to infants’ individual feeding and sleeping schedules?

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