A child may spend over 10,000 hours of his/her preschool years in a child care program. A good child care choice can make those hours rewarding, fun and safe for your child, and give you the security of knowing that your child is in a place where the potential for growth and development is greatest.
Whether you are looking for a child care center, preschool, family child care home or school-age site, here are steps that we suggest you follow when selecting child care:
- Begin as early as possible. Many programs enroll months ahead or have long waiting lists. Call Child Care Referral Central early in your search at 855-EARLY-ED (855-327-5933) or click here to conduct an online search.
- Decide what is important for you and your child. Make a list of what you want to know about a program.
- Visit a minimum of three child care programs and spend at least an hour at each site that you are considering. Ask your questions and use Child Care Referral Central’s child care checklists to look for quality indicators and compare programs. Observe all areas where the children are cared for, including outdoor areas. Look for danger signals that can alert you to problems. Listen to how the family child care provider, director or teachers are interacting with the children.
- Get references from others with children enrolled in the child care program.
- Review the compliance history of each program that you are considering. You can do this by visiting the web site of the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education, the agency regulating child care.
- The work of parents in ensuring a quality child care experience does not stop once a selection has been made. Once you have made your decision, become an involved parent. Volunteer at the program when you can. Drop in and visit your child at various times of the day. All high quality child care programs welcome and need supportive parents. Parents can also serve as advocates for their own child and other children by monitoring their child’s child care program.