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Choosing Quality DayCare

The process of selecting a daycare facility is never an easy task. Our editors have prepared a list of key questions to assist you in asking the right questions as you research your options. It is best to allow ample time so you can feel comfortable with your choices.

There are many different types of daycare available so you should research what environment you are looking for, the costs involved and the amount of time your child will be spending there. Our list of helpful resources is available below to assist you once you are ready to find a provider that meets your needs.

Checklist for Choosing Quality Childcare top of page

Try to allow yourself up to three/four months to find day care you can be happy with. Trust your instincts, visit many facilities, and always check references! Below are some questions to help you out.
  • Programming
    • Does the daily schedule allow for both active & quiet play?
    • Are children encouraged to work alone as well as in small groups?
    • Are there daily lesson plans with activities and objectives for the children?
    • Do the children appear happy and engaged in purposeful play?
    • Are the rooms equipped with age appropriate toys and materials?
    • Are learning centers or play areas well defined?
    • Do children have cubbies or places to keep their belongings from home?
  • Policies & Operations
    • Is their philosophy of care compatible with your own?
    • Are there stimulating activities for different age groups?
    • Are children grouped together in similar age brackets?
    • Are parents encouraged to visit at anytime?
    • Are there strict drop-off and pickup hours?
  • Staffing
    • Is the Director a degreed professional who inspires children?
    • Are the staff trained in early childhod education?
    • Does the staff appear to be interested in you and your child's needs?
    • Are the staff involved with the children, not just directing their activities?
    • How does the staff communicate about your child's progress?
    • Is there low staff turnover?
  • Health & Safety
    • Is the Center licensed nd regularly monitored by your state regulatory agency?
    • Are the toilet facilities clean and easily accessible?
    • Are the food preparation and serving areas clean?
    • Does the facility have an established emergency plan?
    • Are children not released to anyone other than those who have written releases?
    • Are children supervised at all times?
    • Are staff trained in CPR & First Aid?

Daycare Resources top of page

Below are a list of resources to assist you in finding daycare that suits your needs and cover towns including Acton, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boxborough, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Concord, Dedham, Dover, Framingham, Lexington, Lincoln, Maynard, Medfield, Natick, Needham, Newton, Somerville, Sudbury, Stow, Sudbury, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, Winchester, South Shore, North Shore, Western Mass, Cape Cod & Greater New England.

Organization Description Contact Info
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the nation's largest and most influential organization of early childhood educators dedicated to improving the quality of programs for children from birth through third grade. Provides nationwide accreditation lists by state/town. website

Child Care Choices of Boston (CCCB) Offers a six-hour infant and child CPR class. Upon class completion, you will be certified in CPR safety for one year. Other offerings include CPR certification renewal, a first aid class and a semi-annual class in emergency response. 105 Chauncy St.
Boston, MA
(617) 542-5437
Child Care Resource Center A private, nonprofit, child care resource and referral agency that connects families with quality licensed child care in their communities. Provides consumer education, counseling, referrals to local licensed child care programs, and also publishes "Child Care News." Annual membership is $55. Internet membership program is $30. (617) 547-9861
MaChild Care.com An online information resource for families, child care providers, day care consultants and businesses in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Provides an informative newsletter, message boards, provider searches by town, and general support for locating and choosing the right childcare provider for you.

Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) In 2005, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to create one agency to oversee early education and care and after-school services for families. The EEC is responsible for issuing child care providers' licenses and also offers lists of licensed child care providers, regulations those providers must follow and links to informational parenting resources, free of charge. (617) 988-6600
Warmlines Parent Resources This private, not-for-profit organization provides a wealth of information for a $90 annual membership fee. Membership entitles you to their advisory services providing qualified child care referrals, specifically matched to the needs of your family. 218 Walnut St.
Boston, MA
(617) 244- 4636
Yours for Children Yours for Children, Inc. (YFCI) helps Massachusetts children receive nutritious meals and snacks while enrolled in licensed family child care homes and informal child care settings. Yours for Children, Inc. supports family child care professionals with training, materials, and resources to enhance the quality of family child care and it's free from Yours for Children. 1 Hawksley Road
Oxford, MA
(800) 222-2731

Different Types of Daycare top of page

Facility Daycare Centers usually have larger groups (over 12) of children in attendance. One advantage of a daycare center is that it is a structured environment. Daycare Centers are also licensed and inspected by the state for health and safety. Most states require that staff members have training in early childhood development as well as health and safety and nutrition.

Family & Group Family Daycare takes place in your child care provider's home. The primary difference between Family and Group Family daycare is the number of children that are allowed to be in attendence at any given time. Family daycare providers are allowed up to six children - eight if they hold a plus license; and Group Family providers can have up to twelve. There is a smaller group of children than a daycare center which allows for more one-on-one attention.

Corporate Daycare is an option available to those lucky enough to work for companies sympathetic to family needs. Centers are often in the same building you work in, allowing you to pop in to say hello during your lunch hour or when you have a break in the day. If you work near a federal building, inquire about day care centers there.

Nannies or Au Pairs A nanny is a professional who will care for your child or children in or out of the home on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis. Au Pairs are generally young adults from around the world join your family (live in your home) and care for your children during a mutually rewarding, year-long cultural exchange experience.

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