To find the very best setting for your child, you should visit more than one program with your child, if possible. Below are some of the questions parents might ask child care providers, but you’ll want to ask many more specific to your child’s needs.
1. Visit www.GreatStartToQuality.org to search for child care
- Click on the Child Care and Preschool button to begin your search.
- Click on the region where you live. You may then narrow your search to fit your specific needs, interests and preferences by clicking options such as program type, location, your child’s age, schedule, special needs and experience desired.
- Answer a few demographic questions.
- You will receive a list of licensed and registered providers, including Head Start, Great Start Readiness Programs and preschools. You may view state licensing reports for these providers or print information about each provider you wish to contact.
2. Schedule a phone interview to ask…
- Is there an opening for my child?
- What ages do you serve?
- How many children do you care for and how any adults care for them?
- What child care experience, education and accreditation do you have?
- Must a child be toilet trained?
- What kinds of accommodation do you make for children with special needs?
- In a home setting…
- Are there others living in the home? If yes, who and what ages are they? Will they we caring for my child?
- Will my child be taken out of the home while in your care?
- Are there pets or smoking in the home?
- Payment Information
- How much do you charge?
- Do you charge for holidays, absences due to vacation or illness, or late pickups?
- Do you accept children who receive DHS child care subsidy?
3. Schedule a visit and look for…
- Caring Relationships
- Does the provider smile, talk and laugh with the children?
- Does the provider spend one-on-one time with the children?
- Do the children look happy and comfortable with their caregiver?
- Learning through Playing
- Are there a variety of toys and learning materials?
- Is there a daily routine with time for quiet and active play?
- Health and Safety
- Are all indoor and outdoor spaces clean, safe and healthy? Look for safety features such as gates on stairs, caps on electrical outlets, and a locked cabinet for medicine, poisons and cleaning products.
- Are there areas where children can safely take a break from the group?
4. Ask the provider…
- Can I visit at any time?
- How do you handle discipline?
- What if my child needs extra attention?
- Is there one person responsible for knowing about my child and caring her/him?
- Can children bring comfort items from home?
- What is your plan for illnesses or emergencies?
- Do caregivers have up-to-date CPR and first aid training?
- Can I talk with other families who have used your care?
5. Check references, review licensing reports and ask other parents…
- Would you recommend the caregiver?
- Did your child like attending this program?
- Was the caregiver reliable?
- How did the caregiver discipline your child?
- Was the caregiver respectful of your values and culture?
- How did the caregiver work to include you in the consistent care of your child?
- Is your child still with the caregiver? If no, why did you leave?
6. Make a decision that is best for your child and commit to being involved.
- Ask yourself…
- Which caregiver should I choose so my child will be happy and thrive?
- Is there a balance of free play and routines?
- Can the caregiver meet the unique needs of my child?
- After choosing a child care provider, ask yourself how you can schedule your time to…
- Talk to the caregiver and work with him/her to discuss any problems that arise.
- Talk to your child about how her/his day went.
- Visit your child in care.
- Meet with other parents.
- Does your child…
- Want to go to child care?
- Have fun there?
- Feel safe and comfortable?
- Feel respected and heard?