Selecting Child Care

There are many types of child care options available to families.  Finding the right fit for your family and your child can seem like a difficult task.  Explore the types of child care options that are available to you before you decide what is best for your child.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Finding the right child care arrangement for your family's needs can take some time so make sure that you begin looking as early as possible to give yourself enough time to find the right option for you.  you will want to leave enough time to call, tour, read policies and interview with potential child care providers as well as leave enough time to fill out enrollment forms before your child starts.

Do Your Research

Take some time to learn and read about CA child care regulations so that you know what to look for when choosing childcare.  Knowing about ratios, staff requirements, health & safety regulations and equipment guidelines will give you an advantage when interviewing.

Know Your Needs

It is important to determine what your childcare needs are and what your budget is.  Keep in mind that structured and specialized child care generally costs more than other programs.  

If you will need assistance paying for child care, make those arrangements in advance and make sure that you are already pre-approved before you need to start child care.  Many subsidy programs have a waiting list of families needing assistance so make sure to apply as soon as you are able.  

Make a list of what you are looking for in childcare and determine which items on your list are "needs" and which items are "wants" then prioritize your "needs" from most to least important.  Keep an open mind when interviewing for childcare,  the perfect match may not be easy to find.  You may even decide to give up a "need" or "want" if you find child care that meets most of the items on your list or offers something special.

Take a Tour

Visit different types child care options and tour the different environments.   Take notes in a notebook to keep track of what you liked and didn't like about each setting if you are visiting several locations, the information tends blur together after visiting a few.  

Child care centers and family child care homes work a little differently so you will want to visit different ones.  Even different family child care homes may work a little differently than other family child care homes so come prepared with an idea of what a good fit for you is.  

Ask about child and staff ratios, group sizes, caregiver qualifications, child and staff turnover, days that they are closed, how you will be billed (weekly regardless of attendance, only for days that your child is present, sick days etc), their sickness policy and ask to see the facility's license and credentials.  

You will also want to pay attention to the facility itself, the equipment, furniture and materials.  Are they in good working order?  Is the daycare clean?  Are there plenty of toys for the children?  These are all things to take notice of.  Don't forget to ask to be sent a copy of the contract and policies so that you can take them home to review them in private.

Read Contracts & Policies

It's important to read all of the documents, contracts and policies before signing your contract.  You want to make sure that you understand and agree with the terms before making your choice.  There are different childcare options and even similar options can each have very different programs and policies.  For example, two programs may look similar in style and philosophy but may have completely different policies, some of which you may not agree with.  Make sure to review the policies carefully so that you know what rules you will have to follow and to ensure that you are comfortable with them.

Get Everyone on Board

It's important that your family feels comfortable with the child care arrangement, not just your child.  This includes close relatives that will be helping you with dropping off and picking up your child.  Even one parent, sibling or grandparent that is not on board with the child care selection can ultimately cause tension and put strain on the child care relationship.  Children and providers pick up on this tension so make sure that all of the important players agree with the selection and are supportive of the decision. 

Make Your Selection!!!

Congratulations!  Once you have toured different programs and have read through their policies it is time for you to make your selection.