Choosing the best child care for your little one is important because high-quality daycare is linked to improved developmental outcomes, while low-quality care may actually set back child development. As you’re considering child care options, it’s important to find a program that’s within your budget, conveniently located and of course, open when you need it.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, benefits of high quality child care can include:
- Enhanced brain growth and child development
- Greater success in school (better math and language skills)
- Better cognition, social skills, interpersonal relationships, and self-regulation
- Decreased need for special education and related services later
- Lower adolescent pregnancy rates and lower juvenile crime
- Higher graduation rates
To help parents navigate this important choice, below are the steps you can take to make an informed decision.
1. Start Early
Child care is something you need to prepare for. No matter what type of care you are considering – a childcare center or care in someone else’s home – finding the right child care option can take some time. So, be sure to start your hunt as early as you can to ensure you’re prepared when child care is needed.
Also, ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors and family members who have children to better understand local insights and lessons learned. More than likely, they will be happy to share their suggestions and get you pointed in the right direction and might even be a fit for carpooling!
2. Do Your Homework
You can use your state’s child care search to look for providers near your home or on your way to work. Look into their inspection and complaint histories and learn more about their quality ratings. ChildCare.gov provides Resources By State.
Additional resources include:
- Find the Closest Child Care Resource and Referral Agency:
Local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Agencies Search Form
- Find Accredited Child Care Centers:
The National Association for the Education of Young Children
- Find Accredited Family Child Care Homes:
The National Association for Family Child Care
Begin your search by learning about different types of child care providers, reviewing basic health and safety requirements and learning about your state’s specific regulations.
3. Schedule Tours and Ask Questions
Once you’ve narrowed down the list of programs you are considering, ask the right questions to figure out if the program is high quality and a good fit. Below is a checklist you can bring when you visit.
- What is your child care philosophy?
- What are your security and safety policies?
- What is your discipline policy?
- What is your staff turnover rate?
- Do you charge extra if I’m late picking up my child?
4. Make Your Selection
Make the best choice for your child and family based on your needs, values and what you saw at each visit.
5. Be Involved
Developing a strong relationship with your childcare provider will help your child’s learning and development. Share relevant information about your little one and continue to ask questions to learn about your child’s development.