When you’re looking for child care, you want to find a program that’s convenient, open when you need it, and within your budget. All of those things are important, but most importantly, you and your child need a child care program that makes sure your child is safe, healthy and learning.

You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Your child care provider is a critical partner with you. To make sure your child care supports your child, your family and your ability to get to work, it’s important to choose a high quality child care program. Child Care Aware® of America’s 2016 State Fact Sheets report sums it up:

The science is clear: there are long-term positive outcomes for children who begin learning from birth, and for 15 million children in America each week, the child care setting is an opportunity to learn and set healthy habits for life. Decades of research emphasize that quality child care has a lasting positive impact, particularly for children from low-income homes.

It’s often hard to identify high quality child care. How can you find quality child care? What does a quality child care program look like? Start here.

In this section you will find:

5 Steps to Choosing Child Care brings you through the steps to take when you’re looking for child care. You’ll get helpful information on where to look, what to look for and what to do after you’ve made your decision. You’ll learn how to find a local agency that can help you locate child care programs.

Selecting a Child Care Program goes in-depth to show you what a quality program should look like. You’ll learn about indicators of quality that you can look for as you visit potential child care programs. You’ll also get a list of questions that you can ask each child care provider to learn more about their program and how they’ll care for your child.

Child Care Quality Ratings are available in many states. A Quality Rating and Improvement System, or QRIS, often will use symbols (such as stars) to indicate levels of quality in child care programs. Families can use these QRIS ratings to identify quality child care. Learn more about QRIS and how to get information on child care quality ratings where you live.

Understanding Your Child Care Program’s Policies and Contracts walks you through what to look for when reviewing a child care program’s written policies. You’ll also learn what information should be included in a child care contract between you and your child care provider. Written policies are important to make sure you understand and agree with the way that your child will be cared for when you are not with them.

If You Can’t Find Care gives you options for what to do if you’re having trouble finding the right program. Get ideas on how to alter your search and where you might try finding more child care options.

Finding child care is a big decision, and it can be overwhelming. If you’d like to talk about your options or learn more about how to choose quality child care, contact us! You can give us a call at 1(800) 424-2246, or you can Live Chat or email us.