1. The child-care provider asks you to call ahead if you plan to pick up your child early. Parents aren’t allowed to drop by unannounced. Quality child-care providers have an open-door policy for parents; if yours doesn’t, keep looking.
2. The program fails on the health and safety front. You’re greeted at the door by a toddler who appears to have gone AWOL. Once you track down a staff member so that you can hand over the child safely, you might as well exit stage left. There’s nothing more to see here.
3. When you ask for references from other parents, the centre staff come up short. The most useful reference is from a recent parent as opposed to a current parent—they won’t feel quite the same pressure to provide a glowing reference.
4. The playground consists of a fenced-in concrete slab. Kids benefit from being in nature. And staff at a quality program have all kinds of creative ideas for bringing a bit of nature to that slab. If there’s no playground at all or no indication that outdoor play is part of the program, that’s an even bigger problem.