How to Know If Your Daycare Is a Bad Fit for Your Child



There are pros and cons to both options. Personally, we chose an in home daycare because I wanted something smalatteler.

You almost definitely will see less kids in an in home daycare.

However, many in home daycare’s (at least in my state) are not licensed. The biggest reason WE wanted to go with a licensed daycare is because we wanted it to be easy come tax time.

With a licensed daycare, it’s much easier to claim the tax cut available for childcare expenses.

Licensed daycare’s are also subject to more rules and regulations–which CAN mean more structure and a better schedule for your littles.

This certainly does not make an unlicensed center WORSE than a licensed one, as licensed ones can break rules too. 

You need to find the right person for your kids. Licensed or not–the type of person your childcare provider is will dictate whether it’s a good or a bad experience.

Related: How to Deal with Toddler Hitting

If you are looking for something with less children, more of an age range, and a “homey” feel–find an in-home daycare.

If you are hoping for (potentially) more structure, education, and resources among the providers–go with a daycare center.

Article content

Oh the hubris!

Not, to be clear, that I’m against outsourcing child care in itself. Parents who wish to send their children to private daycare are free to make that choice — and pay for that choice themselves. Actually, they likely don’t even have to pay for it all themselves because low-to-medium income families already get help from the government, sometimes in three different ways: through cash from the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), through provincial daycare subsidies and through deducting up to $8000 of child care expenses at tax-time.

So before Canada dishes out tens of billions to implement a nation-wide creche, perhaps redundantly, should we not first stop for a moment and examine the budget’s claims more critically?


An underqualified, irresponsible caregiver

While a home daycare provider is likely to have lots of hands-on “mom” experience, if she isn’t also educated (ideally, with at least two years of college and a background in early childhood development), you might want to think twice. If she isn’t trained in child development, she might not be able to encourage your child appropriately.

Caregivers should also know CPR and have other emergency training. (If this is the only negative when you’re evaluating a provider, consider paying for an emergency course yourself.)

Look for a provider who shares your philosophy on issues such as sleep, discipline, and feeding. A good caregiver is also enthusiastic and well prepared.

You can evaluate her by observing how she interacts with the children in her care. Two sure signs of a less-than-ideal situation are speaking to children only in baby talk and yelling or speaking harshly to them. And of course, if you ever see a provider hit a child, leave immediately and report the incident to your local department of child protective services.

If a home daycare provider thinks it’s reasonable to leave any of the children in her care unattended while she runs to the mailbox or the corner store, you don’t want her looking after your baby. Similarly, if lots of people besides parents, the caregiver, and her charges are in and out each day, keep looking.

Make sure the caregiver isn’t in over her head and that she’s experienced enough to care for the number of children she’s watching. Too many children and not enough adult supervision means your child is likely to get less attention than he needs and deserves. Smaller groups encourage interaction and development.

According to the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), home daycare providers should comply with the adult-to-child ratios required by the state in which you live. An NAFCC accreditation ensures that your home daycare provider meets all of your state’s regulations.

Bottom line: If the provider seems bored, overworked, or inexperienced, keep looking.

What Is A Daycare?

A daycare or creche is a place that provides childcare services. Daycare centers mainly cater to working parents and focus on taking care of the child, feeding them, putting them to sleep, and making them play for some time.

It is typically for younger children (infants to 10 years) who have to spend five to eight hours away from home, but older children also go to daycare after school hours.

A preschool is different from a daycare in many ways, but they have some similarities as well. Read on to know what they are.

[ Read: Effective Parenting Tips for Preschoolers ]

Lax or nonexistent rules

Rules and regulations are important for any institution. Providers without clearly established guidelines for everything from operating hours to handling emergencies are likely to have other organizational problems as well. Before you leave your child at a home daycare, you and the caregiver should sign a contract outlining sick days, vacation days, and so on.

Similarly, places with a lax sick-child policy should be crossed off your list. If children who come down with a fever or the flu don’t have to stay home for at least 24 hours, your child is much more likely to catch every little thing that comes along.

Childcare that works for usGrandma? Daycare? Real parents discuss finding childcare that works.

The provider should also require children (and her assistant, if she has one) to have current immunizations and regular checkups. This policy is a good indication of how seriously she takes health and cleanliness concerns.

If you run into a closed-door policy, keep looking. Any caregiver who balks at having parents drop by unannounced could have something to hide.

Bottom line: If a home daycare doesn’t have rules and organization, it’s not likely to be the right place for you. Keep looking.

They dont have a state license

Some daycares might look good on paper, but you should be doing your homework to make sure they're all they say they are. Make sure any daycare provider you choose maintains a state license and doesn't have any serious complaints or citations.

My advice is to be prepared to ask questions when speaking with a provider. Questions such as "When was your most recent inspection by licensing?" and "Have you had any citations in the past year? If so, what type were they?" are a good starting place.

Also, check their license number for any previous incidents or violations to spot red flags early. You can get licensing info and find vetted care providers easily through the WeeCare safety standards.

First Five Years Of A Childs Life Is The Most Precious

Any parent who has raised a child knows how precarious the first several years of life is. From the initial stages of rolling over, to sitting up, to crawling, to walking like a drunken sailor. Accidents will inevitably happen to all babies and toddlers as they try to learn fine and gross motor skills.

Having an employee who makes slightly more than minimum wage take care of your child’s most important developmental years is suboptimal.

Kids in day care for more than 30 hours have been observed to be more frequent in hitting other children and caregivers, arguing, cheating, destroying of objects and demanding excessive attention. These traits last well into elementary school.

According to the NICD, bad behavior earlier on translates to even more troublesome behavior as kids grow older. Do you really want to have a child at higher risk of doing drugs, getting suspended, and less ambitious simply because you decided not to parent your children during their initial years before school? Of course not. Again, these are the results from the NICD’s longitudinal study, and not my words.

Here are the number of hours in day care and the resulting percentage of kids who exhibit bad behavior:

Less than 10 hours: 10 percent.

10 to 30 hours: 17 percent.

More than 45 hours: then 26 percent.

So yes, your child might be one of the 74 percent who don’t exhibit bad behavior, but why risk it? The average amount of time a parent spends with their child is very low. Parents should try to spend more time with their children, not less.


Do you know the ratio laws in your state? If not, make sure you find out whether your daycare provider is keeping to them.

Are they educated?

Although they don’t HAVE to be educated to do a good job, it’s a good idea to understand their background.

Our VERY best experience with a daycare provider was with one who had not completed a college degree (I think), while our WORST experience was with the “most” experienced.

Are they CPR certified?

CPR is a SUPER important certification that your daycare provider shouldn’t be without. Not only is it important, but it’s incredibly easy to get as well.

Consider it a huge red flag if your provider hasn’t even taken the time to get properly CPR certified.



  1. National Institutes of Health. The NIHCD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.
  2. Bradley RH, Vandell DL. Child care and the well-being of children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Jul; 161(7):669-76.
  3. Child: Care, Health and Development. The influence of different forms of early childcare on children’s emotional and behavioral development at school entry.
  4. Child Development. Little Evidence That Time in Child Care Causes Externalizing Problems During Early Childhood in Norway.
  5. JAMA Psychiatry. Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Children’s Emotional Problems: Can Early Child Care Help Children of Depressed Mothers?

Signs that your child may be unhappy at daycare

Some of the signs that your child is unhappy at daycare include crying during arrival, changes in personality, reluctance to enter the building, and refusing food. If you are getting a lot of phone calls home about tantrums or other behavioral issues, that can be a sign, as well. When it comes to assessing whether a daycare is the right fit, assuming there are no health and safety concerns, Cronkey’s advice is to be patient.


“There is always a balance between trusting and listening to your child, and understanding that sometimes it does take time for a child to adapt to new surroundings,” she says.

Transitions are tough—even for adults—and doubly so when you are a small child. Getting used to a new daycare may take a while, but in many cases, it’s a matter of easing your kid in, and giving them the time to adjust to a new environment.


Notice for the Postmedia Network

This website uses cookies to personalize your content (including ads), and allows us to analyze our traffic. Read more about cookies here. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.