How to Check If Your Day Care Center Is Safe

Parents and lawmakers across D.C., Maryland and Virginia are concerned about children's safety at day care centers after recent deaths and cases of child abuse. 

A day care provider in Prince George's County, Maryland, was charged with murder last week in the death of 9-month-old Savannah Wright. Two day care center teachers in Prince William County, Virginia, were convicted last month of child cruelty and running what a prosecutor called a "baby fight club."

Here are five things you can do as you search for a nurturing and safe child care provider:

1. Check that the care provider is licensed: It's important to make sure the center or provider has a current license and the staff is qualified, according to HealthyChildren.org.

The links below will take you to websites where you can search for licensed child care centers in the area:

2. Ask about the provider's policies: Get the scoop on discipline, snack time, adult-to-child ratio, group size, television and illness policies, HealthyChildren.org recommends. Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions.

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3. Observe: Before choosing a child care center, go to the center and observe how the caregivers interact with infants and children. Baby Center says caregivers should be trained, responsible, enthusiastic and well-prepared. It may be helpful to talk to other parents who use the center and get feedback.

4. Make a safety check: it is vital to make sure the center is clean, child-proofed and stocked with age-appropriate toys and activities, Early Experiences says.

5. Follow your instincts: Child Care Resources says to trust your gut when making a decision, and keep searching if a child care center just doesn't feel right.

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