Let's Break it Down: Finding a Childcare Provider

Finding the right childcare provider for your family can be a confusing and complicated process, one which many parents struggle to navigate. Child Care Aware® of America Executive Director Lynette Fraga, PhD, spoke with Scott MacFarlane of NBC Washington about some specific questions parents can ask, ways to assess your unique family needs, and how to understand and develop an ongoing relationship with your childcare provider.

To not reinvent the wheel, the U.S. Chamber Foundation has pulled content from Child Care Aware's original blog post on this topic as well as additional resources provided across their website to share their tips for searching for and finding the right provider. 

How to Approach Finding Care

  • Identify what's important to your family from your childcare provider. Most people don’t have the opportunity to find childcare that meets all of their criteria, therefore it might be a useful exercise to prioritize the items that are most important to you. Think about location, cost, quality, and whether or not you'd prefer in-home or center-based care. 
  • Tour the childcare centers and/or family childcare homes. Talk to the caregivers and directors. You may also have an opportunity to speak with another parent. 

When you tour the childcare center, be sure to ask questions about:

  • Their staff to child ratios
  • Curriculum
  • Licensing
  • Qualifications and background checks of their teachers
  • Emergency plans
  • Food and snack schedule
  • Approach to discipline
  • Access to outdoor space

Child Care Aware provides some great provider checklists for program-specific items. Providing these checklists to working parents is an easy step for any employer to take to support their workforce. Here's a quick breakdown of the provider checklists and the kind of information you can get from them.

  • The types of checklists include for childcare centers, family/home childcare, preschool programs, and school-age programs.
  • Each checklist includes questions you can ask about the general facility, health and nutrition, supervision and safety, indoor and outdoor environment, caregiver interaction, program structure, staff qualifications, and more. 
  • The checklists also include specific questions that many parents can be concerned about, like safe sleep practices for infants and toddlers, eco-healthy tip questions, and emergency situation questions.

Leveraging a CCR&R

It's normal for a parent or caregiver to have a lot of questions or feel overwhelmed about childcare when first starting a search. A great resource for learning more about the options in a community is through the local Childcare Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R). These agencies provide many different services, including childcare referrals and other parenting supports, childcare provider trainings and technical assistance, and other efforts to increase the quality and availability of childcare. Child Care Aware has a search tool to help parents and caregivers find their local CCR&R. 

Other CCR&R services include:

  • Referrals to local childcare providers.
  • Providing information on state licensing requirements.
  • Providing information on where to get help paying for childcare.
  • Supporting and providing resources and continuing education to childcare providers.

CCR&Rs assist families by phone, in person, and in other ways that are tailored to each family. The majority of CCR&Rs have websites with childcare information and resources. In addition to assistance finding childcare, many CCR&Rs offer parenting workshops, hotlines, and newsletters. Another easy tip for employers looking to support their workforce is to identify the various local CCR&R's and have their information on hand as a ready-to-go resource in their HR department.

Content for this post was compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation using content and resources provided by Child Care Aware of America