Child Care Aware of America works with more than 600 state and local Child Resources and Referral agencies nationwide to help ensure that all families in teh United States have access to quality, affordable child care. To achieve its mission, Child Care Aware of America leads projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, undertakes research, and advocates for child care policies that improve the lives of children and families.
As a new parent finding child care for the first time, or a family attempting to find a new provider, locating high-quality child care might be easier said than done.
There are many things to consider before selecting a child care provider and these Parent Pages will offer you information to become a more informed consumer of child care:
Child Care 101
Whether you’re just beginning your search for child care, as a new parent, or you’re attempting to locate a new provider, locating quality child care can be tricky. In this section, you will find information related to locating quality child care; the types of child care available to you; and how to evaluate child care providers you visit.
- 5 Steps to Choosing Care – Start early, make a call, visit and ask questions, make a choice, stay involved.
- Types of Care – How do you know what type of care is best for your child? There are many options available: Child Care Centers, Family Child Care, In-home Caregivers, Care Provided by Relatives, Friends and Neighbors.
Choosing quality care is important, no matter which kind of provider you decide upon.
- Choosing Child Care – Guidelines when choosing the right childcare program: supervision, handwashing/diparing, director qualifications, lead teacher qualification, child/staff ratio and group size, immunizations, toxic substances, emergency plan, fire/emergency drills, medication, staff training/first aid, playgrounds.
- If You Can’t Find Care – What to do in case there is no nearby care.
- Evaluating a Provider – How to evaluate/measure the quality of a child care home or center.
Families looking for quality child care want to make the best informed decisions they can when it comes to the care of their child(ren). Here you will be able to examine areas related to child care such as your state licensing information, accreditation information, what your Child Care Resource & Referral agency can do for you, as well as additional information about Child Care Aware® and the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
- About Child Care Resource and Referral – Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions families make, but all too often they must rely on word-of-mouth. Local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) organizations help parents take the guesswork out of choosing care by providing.
- Licensing – The goal of child care licensing is to ensure the safety and developmental well-being of children while in out-of-home care. Licensing laws vary from state to state and provide a baseline of quality below which it is illegal to operate. Before making a final choice, parents should contact their state’s child care regulatory office.
- Accreditation – Many states have rules for family child care homes and child care centers. These rules are set and monitored by local agencies. Licensing rules may help parents judge the quality of local child care. “Accreditation” is another way to judge the quality of a child care program. Family child care homes and child care centers can choose to get accredited by a child care accrediting organization. But, they have to meet higher standards than licensing rules. The program must offer the kind of care, attention, and educational activities parents look for in quality child care programs. It must offer activities and experiences that will aid in a child’s growth and development, and that will help them prepare for school.
Offers families examining their child care choices items of interest such as common child care terms, national organizations related to children and families, a child care budgeting calculator, and a child care decision making tool.
- Child Care Options Calculator – The Child Care Aware Budgeting Child Care Options calculator allows families to examine their financial situation both with and without the cost of child care. Factors such as cost of child care, work related expenses, monthly bills, and savings or retirement contributions are all included in the calculator. Families will be able to get an idea of their monthly budget and how child care will impact that budget.
- National Organizations – List of national organizations and associations that provide information for families regarding child development, parenting, and/or child care concerns or questions.
- Stay at Home or Return to Work – The decision to stay at home or return to work is not easy. Child Care Aware’s Accessing Support for All Parents (ASAP) project will help families look at factors involved in making decisions about child care. The ASAP Decision Making Tool allows families to: Consider critical areas of your lives impacted by child care decisions, Examine feelings regarding child care options, Seek the most appropriate resources and support for those choices.
- Child Care Finder – For child care options in your area, contact the nearest CCR&R. Please use the filters to refine your search. You may search by (Zip) Postal Code.
- Child Care Best Practices (videos) – Watch videos on Training & Education, Caregiver Interaction, Caregiver to Child Ratios, Activity, Health & Safety, Family Child Care.
- Public Service Announcements – Watch Public Service Announcements (PSA) for information on Child Care Awareness services, and contact information.
- Alex the Bear – Going to child care for the first time or entering a new child care setting can be a daunting experience for both children and parents. Alex the Bear, the newest friend of Child Care Aware®, seeks to make the transition exciting, enjoyable and a lot more fun!
- Ask the Expert – Questions submitted by users that have been answered by the expert.
Parents will find links to Child Care Aware® publications and more. The publications offer tips on locating and selecting quality child care, financial assistance, early literacy, and information specific to your child care decision making process. Other information includes resources for families affected by natural disasters, frequently asked questions related to Child Care Aware® and CCR&R services and information targeted especially to fathers.
- Fatherhood – Visiting and participating in events at your child’s child care sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child care provider that what your child is doing and learning is important. Find a wealth of information on how to be a better dad.
- Preparing for Disaster – As a parent, the safety and well-being of your children is your primary concern. It takes a great deal of trust to leave your children in child care, and when disasters occur, this trust takes on a new dimension. Find resources that you can use to ask the right questions of your child care provider and play a role in planning for and recovering from any catastrophe that strikes.
- Coping with Disaster – Get useful information on how to cope with disaster from the adult and the child perspective.
- Frequently Asked Questions – Questions submitted by users that have been answered by the expert.
- Publication for Parents – Find great resources on parenting.
Child Care Aware Resources
Child Care Aware Parent Network Webinars – The Child Care Aware® Parent Network webinars, presented by child care experts, provide information about quality child care and other topics that are of interest to you. They are designed specifically for busy parents, grandparents, advocates, and professionals. All the educational webinars are always FREE!
Valuable Presentations by The Child Care Aware® Parent Network
Are You Prepared? (.pdf file) – provides important information and resources on child preparedness for emergencies.
Making and Informed Vaccine Decision (.pdf file) – A conversation with pediatricians to help parents understand vaccine benefits and risks.
Healthy Habits for Life (.pdf file) – Presenting the Healthy Habits for Life child care resource kit and other great learning resources.
Speak Up to Protect Kids – What Parents Can Do (.pdf file) – Presents the effects of stress on the developing brain, identifies the types of toxic stress, defines the parents’ roles in preventing child abuse, and advises on improving parenting practices.
Make the First Five Count – Presents the state of quality of child care, the topic of inclusive child care, the legal obligations of child care providers. Learn more about how parents and child care providers can help to provide early diagnoses and successful early intervention for young children. Learn how quality inclusive child care, in a setting with both children with disabilities and typically-developing children, would benefit your child.