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Insider Tips for Selecting Child Care

As an inspector for children’s day care programs, parents often ask me for recommendations when they discover what I do for a living. While my job prevents me from making specific recommendations, I can share some tips to help parents find the right child care option for their family.

I have been inside many day cares during my tenure working with early childhood programs. Each one is different and has its own unique culture. While different, there are some qualities that should remain constant: safety, communication, cleanliness, and having an open door policy.

The first place to start your research is to visit your state's website. In Virginia, the department of social services website has information about different child care programs. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the types of programs available to you.

Below is a list of sample questions to help you determine if a particular program is the right place for your little one.


  • Are there any physical hazards within a child's reach?
  • Does the program have policies and procedures to address day-to-day operations and emergencies?
  • Is there a safe sleep policy for infants and toddlers?
  • Does your child's teacher know how to execute these polices?
  • What precautions does the program take when visitors are in the building?
  • Are the activities and materials used safe and age appropriate?
  • What is the ratio of staff members to children?
  • Is there anyone trained in CPR and first aid?


  • What methods are used to communicate with parents?
  • How do staff members communicate with the children and each other?
  • Are positive discipline and redirection methods used?
  • Do staff members offer comfort to children?


  • Are the floors clean? Young children spend a lot of time on the floor crawling, learning to walk, and sitting with peers during circle time.
  • How often are toys and other materials cleaned and sanitized?
  • Do staff members wash their hands before and after bathroom visits and before meals?
  • How often are linens washed?
  • What methods are used to prevent the spread of germs?

Open Door Policy

  • Does the program allow you to visit your child at any time of the day?
  • Is there someone always available to speak to you about a concern?
  • Is your child clean and happy when you pick them up at the end of the day?

Lastly, you should always trust your gut. As parents, we often know when something feels right and when something is off. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, visit several places, and make multiple visits if you feel the need.

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About Adrianna and Ryan Walden

About Adrianna and Ryan  Walden

Ryan and Adrianna Walden have been married for 17 years. The two met when she was working for an arena football team in Norfolk where he was playing football. Ryan is a service coordinator with the Chesapeake Early Intervention Program and Adrianna is a Licensing Specialist for Children's Programs with the Department of Education. Both enjoyed teaching CHKD’s "Happiest Baby" class together for over a decade. Together they have one daughter, who despite early health issues, is now a thriving and happy teen. The Walden's have a passion for working with children and married couples.