Choosing Your New Provider
Looking for Child Care?
Choosing Your Child Care Provider
Choosing the right child care provider is a very important and difficult decision. Examining your own beliefs and trying to find a child care provider that has values you respect and will give your child individual, caring attention is a good start to locating the right program.
- Plan Ahead
Allow yourself plenty of time for a careful detailed child care search. Ask yourself some initial questions. What type of care would best suit 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
Complete a child care referral intake form to receive a customized list of regulated child care providers in your area.
- Contact providers
Explain your child care needs (age of child, schedule needed, etc.) to several programs locating ones that meet your initial needs.
- Visit providers
Plan to visit at least 2 - 3 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, desired form of discipline, etc. Plan on visiting a second time with your child to see how your caregiver and child interact with one another. Eliminate any program that is unwilling to answer your questions or have you visit.
- 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?
- Listen. 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
Ask the family child care provider / center director 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 feelings
Pay attention to your initial feelings and intuitions. While there are concrete 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 evaluate
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.