Telltale trouble-signs for a daycare center

A daycare center can play an important part in educating and honing the potentials of young children – and it’s a vital part of the childcare plan for many working parents.

A little one’s experience in a daycare center will have a long-term impact on their intellectual, emotional, and physical development and this can be a great thing, with a great daycare center. But it’s also why it’s so important for parents to keep an eye out for daycare centers that just aren’t working out. Fortunately, there are generally signs of daycares that might not be right for your family.

Lack of license

Depending on where you live, you may be able to look up daycare centers in your area that have had their licenses suspended or revoked. While some smaller, home-daycare centers or daycare centers associated with religious organizations may not need to obtain licenses in some states, their license status can still be helpful information. If a center has its license suspended or has had its license suspended in the past, you may want to approach it with skepticism.  

High child-to-staff ratio

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the child-to-staff ratio for a toddler should be as follows:

  • Up to 12 months: 3:1
  • 13 to 35 months: 4:1
  • 3-year-olds: 7:1

An adequate child-to-staff ratio means that the individual needs of the children are met. This is especially crucial for toddlers whose need for attention and guidance is higher than it is for older children.

Unhygienic area

The risk of infection in daycare is high. It is not uncommon for a child to contract skin problems or experience diarrheal episodes from a daycare center. An excellent center keeps the area clean, and spots that are potential breeding grounds for germs, like restrooms and areas where children eat, sanitized.

Unqualified staff

Check if the staff have the necessary credentials such as the Child Development Associate Credential or the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. These credentials are the gold standards for a day care center staff’s expertise when it comes to child care and development. It’s also a good idea to be wary of staff that seem rude or indifferent. Anyone can have a bad day, but since these are the people who are going to be taking care of your little one, and who are going to have a big impact on them as they grow, so don’t be afraid to go with your gut!

Extra fees

The exact amount that you should pay for should be clearly explained to you or stated on a contract before you enroll your child. There should never be extra fees or hidden charges after the fact.


Ask about the discipline policy of the program. There are a few different ways daycare centers can choose to introduce discipline, and you’ll want to find one that lines up with your views. More than that, it may be a red flag for a daycare center to start talking about discipline with children who are too young to really start to understand boundaries.

No or limited visiting policy

Take heed of day care centers that forbid or set too many limits on when parents can visit their child during the day. Parents have the right to check on their children from time to time to ensure that they are getting the right treatment and care.

A day care center is not just a place for kids to stay when the parents are busy working or a place where they can learn how to socialize. The values of the center where Baby spends their time should coincide with yours, and it’s alright to be extra cautious when choosing one, and deciding whether the one you’ve chosen is the right fit.

  • David G. Addiss, et al. “The Compliance of Licensed U.S. Child Care Centers with National Health and Safety Standards.” American Journal of Public Health. 84(7): 1161-1164. July 1994. Retrieved November 2 2017.
  • J. Olaitan, O. Adeleke. “Bacteria In Day Care Environment.” Internet Journal of Microbiology. 3(1).
  • “Choosing a Childcare Center.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved November 2 2017. 

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