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Choosing Child Care

Good child care arrangements can improve the daily lives of children and parents.

Teacher and Student Playing

Choosing Child Care

Good child care arrangements can improve the daily lives of children and parents. Children in high quality care have higher levels of success when they enter school, and exhibit more cooperation and stick with tasks longer than children in other settings. Quality child care environments challenge a child to learn.

  • The right child care will make both you and your child happy.

  • Child care providers concerned with quality screen visitors and maintain a list of persons approved to pick up your child.

  • Quality child care provides children with opportunities to experiment and test new skills.

  • Trained child care providers understand how children grow and learn and they know how to provide the most appropriate materials and activities for children to learn.

  • Quality child care environments have lower staff-child ratios, so that your child gets more individual attention.

  • Quality child care providers welcome you as both an observer and a contributor to your child’s program

Children and Teacher in Kindergarten

How to choose Quality Care


Begin by visiting several child care homes, facilities or centers. On each visit, think about your first impression.

  • Does the place look safe for your child?

  • Do the caregivers/teachers who will care for your child enjoy talking and playing with children?

  • Do they talk with each child at the child’s eye level?

  • Are there plenty of toys and learning materials within a child’s reach?

You should always visit a home or center more than once. Stay as long as possible so you can get a good feel for what the care will be like for your child. Continue to visit from time to time even after you have started using the child care provider. Use this checklist when visiting to help with your evaluation.


  • What does the child care setting sound like?

  • Do the children sound happy and involved?

  • Are the teacher’s voices cheerful and pleasant?

A place that is too quiet may mean not enough activity. Too noisy may mean that there’s a lack of control.


Count the number of children in the group, then count the number of staff members caring for them. Obviously, the fewer the number of children per caregiver, the more attention your child will get. A small number of children per caregiver is most important for babies and younger children.


It’s very important that adults who care for your children have the knowledge and experience to give them the attention that they need. Ask about the background and experience of all staff, including the program director, caregivers, teachers, and any other adults who will have contact with your children in the home or center.

Be Informed

Find out more about efforts in your community to improve the quality of child care. Is your caregiver involved in these activities? How can you get involved? For more information, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

Volunteers Serving Food

Using & Paying for Child Care

Once you've chosen your child care arrangement, you'll begin the transition into the new program, and begin new relationships with providers, teachers, and other families. Staying in close touch and monitoring the care your child receives is very important, no matter what type of child care you have chosen.

The cost of paying for child care is a major consideration for most families. Many families today are spending over half of their income toward high-quality child care programs. There are many reasons why child care can be so expensive. Some of the reasons include high ratios of adults to children, teacher or provider qualifications, location of care, and costs of space, insurance, equipment, and special programs. Quality care for infants and toddlers can be especially expensive due to small group sizes. Hiring an in-home caregiver tends to be the most expensive form of care, followed by child care centers and family child care homes.

Find out more about the cost of care, government assistance, employer-sponsored programs, and tax credits that may be of benefit to you.

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