preschool classroomPreschool programs are usually for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. They are often open only during the school year, for only part of the day. Many states offer free or low-cost prekindergarten programs that are also considered preschool programs.

Many organizations offer preschool programs, including schools, places of worship, nonprofit organizations, and child care centers. Depending on the rules in your state, these programs may or may not be required to be licensed. Licensed programs are required to follow a set of basic health and safety requirements, and they are monitored to make sure they are following the requirements.  

States have a child care search which can help you determine if the providers you are considering are licensed. You can search for detailed information about providers in your state and find more information about your state’s child care requirements by using the search feature of this website.  Just click this link, See Your State's Resources, select your state under “Get Child Care Resources.” You will then see a variety of links to state specific information including “Inspection Reports” and “Child Care Regulations” information for your state.

Tips for Choosing This Type of Care Group of Preschoolers with Questions

  • When visiting a preschool, ask to see a copy of the program’s license, registration or certification, and inspection history.

  • Most states post inspection reports online. Use the See Your State's Resources feature on this website to see inspection reports of child care providers you are considering. These reports provide valuable information about the quality of preschool programs. Check them before you select a program and regularly while your child is enrolled.

  • Confirm that every adult working or volunteering in the program has had a comprehensive background check.

  • Ask how many adults and children are in each classroom and about the teachers’ education and training. Make sure that every teacher has had training on important health and safety topics such as first aid and CPR, safe sleep, giving children medication, and child development. Learn more about the 12 health and safety trainings that all adults caring for children should have.

  • Find out whether your child’s teacher has an early childhood credential or degree and how long he or she has been working in the early childhood field.

  • Ask about the program’s staff turnover rate (how frequently staff leave). If a program experiences a large amount of teacher turnover, your child could experience many transitions to new teachers. A high turnover rate could also mean that there are issues that could affect the quality of the program.

  • Ask what curriculum is used. Also ask the provider to explain the types of daily activities planned for the children, and how those activities will support your child’s learning.

  • Make sure that the provider’s policies and opinions on discipline, supervision, nutrition, child development, and learning align with what you want for your child.

  • Ask about information and activities provided for parents. Ask if the program provides opportunities for parents to learn about how their children are doing or talk about their children’s progress.

  • Get a copy of the provider’s policies and contract. These documents should cover important topics, including hours of operation, rates, fees, field trip permission slips, transportation agreements, and absence policies. Read more about recommended items that should be included in a child care contract.

  • Print a list of questions and things to look for that you can take with you when visiting a potential preschool program.

Why Families Choose This Type of Care

Families who select a preschool program usually don’t need full-day, full-year care, but are looking for a program that focuses on getting children ready for kindergarten.


This text has been adapted from content originally created by Child Care Aware of America Grant #90LH002 for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Child Care (OCC).