Due Diligence: How to check up on your daycare

I never cease to be amazed how much information there is at our fingertips today. However, when it comes to learning the licensing history of a daycare it can be a bit hard to come by. That’s why I’m writing this handy how-to guide so you too can follow up and learn about a center’s licensing history if you are so inclined.

Some basics

The vast majority of all daycares in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are licensed by the state. The agency in charge of licensing is the Department of Early Education and Care (the “EEC”). In order for a center to be licensed it has to follow a number of state requirements including requirements having to do with criminal background checks for employees and other safety matters.

The EEC has a number of regional offices that cover different portions of the state. For example, the regional office that covers Metro Boston is located in Quincy. Each regional office has a number of licensors that are in charge of license requirements for specific daycares in the region. In short, every daycare has a specific licensor and you need to know their name in order to be able to find out about the daycare.

An established daycare’s license usually lasts for up to 3 years before it has to be renewed. In order to be renewed the licensor will have to make an inspection. These are called “Inspection and Monitoring” visits. The other time a licensor will go to a daycare is if there is a report that causes an “investigation”.

Investigations occur when there has been a report that something has happened in center that violates the regulations. It could be related to safety or otherwise. Anyone can file a report initiating an investigation. A parent could make a complaint, a staff member could make a complaint and even center directors have an obligation to self-report when they see that some sort of violation has occurred. These complaints are then followed up by an investigation.

So now that you have the basics the goal is to find out who is the licensor for the particular daycare you’re interested in so you can call them and get information on the most recent inspection plus any investigations that a center has had.

How to look up this information

To do this follow these steps:

1. Go to this website to search daycares on the EEC website:

As you can see you can search by name of daycare or even just select the town it is in and do a search and scroll through the list of daycares in that town until you find it.

2. Click on the center you are interested in looking at. You’ll notice there is a lot of great information on this page about the facility. If the license is active, capacity, etc. However, for our purposes when you are on the center page notice the field where it says EEC Licensor and EEC Regional Office Address (see photo). This is who you’ll need to reach out to because unfortunately the EEC doesn’t currently have the results of their Inspections and Investigations online so you’ll have to call and speak to the licensor directly.

In order to find the phone number of the regional office click on the hyperlink where it says EEC Regional Office Address. Just for your convenience I wrote out the regional office phone numbers below:

Metro Boston Office: (617) 472-2881

Northeast MA Office: (978) 681-9684

Southeast MA Office: (508) 828-5025

Central MA Office: (508) 798-5180 Western MA Office: (413) 788-8401

3. When you do get the particular licensor on the phone this is what you should ask:

  • Can you tell the licensing history of this daycare?

  • Can you tell me the results of the most recent license renewal inspection?

  • Can you let me know about any investigations at this child care center?

That’s it. The inspector can give you a pretty thorough background of the things they’ve seen at that facility in their capacity as a regulator. They can go back in time as far as you want but obviously the further back you go the potentially less relevant the information is to you.

An Important Note!

I wanted to give an overview about how to find this information because it is a bit involved in knowing where to look. However, just because a center is licensed doesn’t mean that it is perfect. Use your judgement to determine if the center meets your standards or if you think the caregivers there are remaining true to their standards between inspections. Looking up this information doesn’t substitute for your judgement but hopefully it is helpful for those that want all the information they can get at their disposal.

Easel - Daycare When You Need It!

Ever had your care fall through? Now you have another option with Easel. We offer "Daycare When You Need It!" and help parents book spots at quality daycares near them—even at the last minute. Click here and fill out the “book care now” form if you need care. Or signup to stay in touch with Easel!