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How to Choose a Child Care Provider


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How to Choose Your Child Care

Choosing the right child care provider is a very important and difficult decision. Choosing a program that has values you respect and will give your child individual, caring attention is a great start to choosing. 

Plan Ahead

  • There are often waitlists so be sure to start early. 

  • Allow yourself plenty of time to search for a child care program. Ask yourself some initial questions. What type of care would be best your child? Would your child be more comfortable in a structured program? What are your needs in terms of location, hours of operation, and cost?

Locate Providers

  • If you haven’t already searched for providers, complete a child care referral to receive a customized list of regulated child care providers in your area. This will give you a place to start when trying to locate and choose new providers! Click "Find Child Care" above. 

Contact & Visit Programs

  • Reach out to child care programs to talk about your child care needs (age of child, schedule needed, etc.) to find ones that meet your needs. 

  • Plan to visit a few different programs. If you are unsure what type of setting you are interested in selecting, visit both centers and family child care providers. Ask questions and take notes so you can compare the programs. Discuss what you want for your child, such as meals, naps, activities, etc. Eliminate any program that is unwilling to answer your questions or have you visit.

  • You could plan on visiting a second time with your child to see how your caregiver and child interact with one another.

  • While visiting programs, look for these things:

    • Observe awake active children to see how the child care provider interacts with the children.

    • Count the number of children and adults in the room. Do the child/adult ratios meet regulations requirements?

    • Is the facility clean and orderly?

    • Is there frantic yelling or enforced silence?

    • Are children involved and enjoying their activities?

    • Do children have access to toys and equipment appropriate for their age?

Check References

  • You may want to ask the program for references of parents who currently have their children enrolled. Making sure that the provider is highly recommended for their quality care helps you make a more sound decision about your child’s care.

Trust Your Gut

  • Pay attention to your initial feelings and intuitions. While there are things you can ask and observe, it is okay to act on your feelings. Any negative feelings are usually a good sign that the arrangement will not work out

Continue to Visit Program 

  • After you have found child care, do not stop there. Continue to stay involved to make sure the program continues to meet your child’s needs. Visit the program both announced and unannounced. Listen to what your child tells you about his/her day. Talk to your provider about any concerns you may have.