Four steps for selecting
a child care provider
Step 1: Interview the caregivers
Call the provider first, and ask…
- Is there an opening for my child?
- What hours and days are you open and where are you located?
- How much does care cost? Is financial assistance available?
- How many children are in your care?
- What age groups do you serve?
- Do you provide transportation?
- Do you provide meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks)?
- Do you have a license, accreditation, or other certification?
- When can I come to visit?
Then, visit the provider. (Visit more than once, staying as long as you can!) During your visit, look for…
- Responsive, nurturing, warm interactions between the caregiver and the children.
- Children who are happily involved in daily activities and comfortable with their caregiver.
- A clean, safe, and healthy indoor and outdoor environment, especially the napping, eating and toileting areas.
- A variety of toys and learning materials, such as books, puzzles, blocks and climbing equipment, that your child will find interesting and which will contribute to their growth and development.
- Children getting individual attention.
- Can I visit at any time?
- How do you handle discipline?
- What do you do if a child is sick?
- What would you do in case of an emergency?
- What training have you (and other staff/substitutes) had?
- Are all the children and staff required to be immunized?
- May I see a copy of your license or other certification?
- Do you have a substitute or backup caregiver?
- May I have a list of parents (current and former) who have used your care?
- Where do children nap? Do you know that babies should go to sleep on their backs?
Step 2: Check references
Ask other parents…
- Was the caregiver reliable on a daily basis?
- How did the caregiver discipline your child?
- Did your child enjoy the child care experience?
- How did the caregiver respond to you as a parent?
- Was the caregiver respectful of your values and culture?
- Would you recommend the caregiver without reservation?
- If your child is no longer with the caregiver, why did you leave?
Ask the local child care resource and referral program or licensing office…
- What regulations should child care providers meet in my area?
- Is there a record of complaints about the child care provider I am considering and how do I find out about it?
Step 3: Make the decision for quality care
From what you heard and saw, ask yourself…
- Which child care provider should I choose so that my child will be happy and grow?
- Which caregiver can meet the special needs of my child?
- Are the caregiver’s values compatible with my family’s values?
- Is the child care available and affordable according to my family’s needs and resources?
- Do I feel good about my decision?
Step 4: Stay involved
Ask yourself, how can I arrange my schedule so that I can…
- Talk to my caregiver everyday?
- Talk to my child about how the day went?
- Visit and observe my child in care at different times of the day?
- Be involved in my child’s activities?
- How can I work with my caregiver to resolve issues and concerns that may arise?
- How do I keep informed about my child’s growth and development while in care?
- How can I promote good working conditions for my child care provider?
- How can I network with other parents?
This information is adapted from Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services