Many parents in Washington return to work after having a baby. When searching for a day care provider, your child’s safety is of the utmost concern. 

Keep these considerations in mind when evaluating child care options for your family. 

Review state licensing and accreditation 

Washington state requires licensing for home-based child care provided to no more than 12 children and for child care centers that provide care for less than 24 hours a day for infants through age 12. Whether in a center or a family home, licensed child care providers must meet certain state quality standards. Washington maintains a Child Care Check website so parents can check the credentials of local care providers. 

In addition to state requirements, organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Family Child Care require centers to meet stringent requirements to maintain accreditation. 

Check on crib safety 

Ask questions about where the children sleep at the day care and tour the sleeping area. Staff members should be able to see your child sleeping at all times. Infant sleeping surfaces should consist of firm mattresses with tight-fitting sheets. Cribs and mattresses must be free of blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. 

Stop by without an appointment 

When you visit for an official tour, the care provider will show you the best possible view of the facility. To get more clarity about how the center runs on a regular day, stop in unannounced and ask to observe for a few minutes. If the center is not forthcoming or if something does not seem right during your visit, it may be a red flag. 

Ask about hiring practices 

Choose a center that requires staff background checks and regular safety training. Ideally, child care providers should have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in child development. 

If your child suffers an injury at day care, the provider may be responsible for his or her medical costs. In this situation, you can file a legal claim and show that the provider was negligent.