To find quality child care, follow these five steps to success:
Step 1 – Start Early
Start looking as far in advance as you can. Finding the right child care option can take time.
Step 2 – Search Online or Make a Call
Begin your search by clicking the child care search icon or call SC CCR&R for more information at 1-888-335-1002. SC CCR&R can give you facts about child care, as well as a referral of child care options in your area that meet your needs.
We also have information about how you can get help paying for child care, licensing information and a checklist on how to identify high quality child care programs.
SC CCR&R provides child care referrals, not recommendations, to child care programs and resources. The SC CCR&R does not endorse, warrant, or regulate any child care programs.
SC CCR&R Online Child Care Search provides counselors who are available to give you personalized child care information. However, you also have the option of performing a child care search on your own via SCChildCare.org.
Step 3 - Visit & Ask Questions
Make sure you visit the child care options you are considering. Find out if the program meets the following key indicators of quality:
- Child to Adult Ratio – Ask how many children there are per adult.
Why – The fewer the number of children for each adult, the better it is for your child. You want your child to receive plenty of attention; the younger the child, the more adults there should be available to provide care.
- Group Size – Ask how many children are in the group.
Why – The smaller the group, the better. Imagine a group of 25 two-year olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 two-year olds with two adults. Each has the same child to adult ratio but which group would you choose for your child to have a calmer and safer environment.
- Caregiver Qualifications – Ask about the caregivers’ training and education.
Why – Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child's growth and development. It’s important that caregivers are involved in activities that improve their skills and professional development such as participation in Family Child Care Network or Director meetings, attending early childhood conferences, or receiving on-site technical assistance to improve the overally quality of programs from one of SC CCR&R's Regional Quality Coaches.
- Turnover – Ask how long the caregivers have been at the center or providing care in their home.
Why – It's best if children stay with the same caregiver for at least a year. Your child needs to focus his/her energy on learning new things rather getting used to new caregivers every few months.
- ABC Quality Rating & Improvement System – Find out if the child care provider participates in the statewide ABC Quality level program.
Why – Programs that have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than state licensing requirements, like ABC Quality, increase the quality of the program. Levels A+ to B exceed state licensing requirements, and Level C programs meet licensing requirements.
Step 4 - Make a Choice
Think about what you saw at each visit, and make the best choice for your child and family. Use a checklist provided by SC CCR&R to help you make a choice. Keep in mind the pros and cons of each type of child care setting:
Pros: less expensive; small groups; flexible hours, family style environment
Cons: less likely to be licensed; no back-up if provider is sick; few training hours
Pros: reliable; licensed; lots of social interaction; staff with early childhood education/degrees
Cons: more expensive; few accept infants; closed on holidays, illness spreads quickly
Step 5 - Stay Involved
The work isn't over when you find care for your child. Visiting and participating in events at your child's early childhood program sends a message that you want to be involved in your child’s growth and development. Include visits at different times of the day in order to participate in a variety of activities. The following are a few parent activity ideas:
- Read your favorite children’s book to your child’s class.
- Start a Provider Appreciation Day Committee to celebrate teachers in program.
- Create a Parent Information Board to share parenting resources.
- Recycle or purchase items for art activities (e.g. paper, plastic containers & bottles, cardboard boxes)
- Share your hobby with children during Show & Tell
- Sponsor a class field trip to your local children’s museum
Even if you can’t get time off from work during the day, you can check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Allow yourself extra time in your schedule to walk around the child care environment and ask caregiver questions regarding your child’s growth and development.
If you are having trouble finding child care, here are a few helpful tips:
- Stay in touch with your Child Care Referral Specialist, and ask them to keep thinking about what might work for you.
- Look in a different location. Try looking on your way to work, near work, or near a public transportation stop on your route to work, or even try a different route to work.
- Discuss your child care needs with your employer and with co-workers. If many of you are having the same difficulties, your employer needs to know, so that they can allow adjustments in schedules and create ways to keep valuable employees.
- Get on the waiting list at every program that would work for you. You never know when a spot might open up.