Warning Signs of Poor Childcare

Quality early care and education programs recognize the importance of an “open door” policy for families whose children are enrolled. As a parent/guardian, you have the right to immediate access to your child at any time.

Listed below are a few warning signs of poor early care and education:

Inadequate Supervision: 
  • Children left unattended
  • Too few staff for the number of children present/not being engaged in children’s activities
  • Staff who are angry, rough, or moody with children


  • Infants restricted to cribs, playpens, walkers or high chair
  • Too many children crowded in small space/reliance on television or video to entertain children
  • Continuous staff turnover 
Health and Safety Warning Signs: 
  • Bad odors/poor sanitation practices, especially related to diapering and feeding
  • Dirty environment or dirty children
  • Unsafe play area – unfenced yard, broken equipment
  • Unlocked poisons or cleaning supplies/medication improperly stored 
Your Child’s Reactions:
  • Your child repeatedly cries or resists staying at early care and education/afraid of a particular person
  • Your child talks about anger, violence, fears, or secrets that are not age-appropriate
  • Your child appears very hungry or very thirsty without cause
  • Your child shows a sudden intense preoccupation with sexual matters (beyond normal curiosity) and may “act out” with other children or dolls

If your child reports a disturbing incident that took place that day, ask for an explanation from the teacher or provider first, before reporting it to the director/provider or outside authorities. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for something that your child heard or saw.

A pattern of disturbing events or reports from your child should never be ignored. If your child continues to report something upsetting, speak to the director/provider or call one of our Child Care Resource and Referral Specialists to discuss your concerns. If you still have concerns after the discussion, and feel your concerns have not been resolved, you may decide to remove your child from the early care and education arrangement and look for another provider. Remember to trust your instinct and your knowledge of your child.

Adapted from Beansprout 2002
Warning Signs of Poor Child Care