Care About Childcare @ Five County offers free child care referrals to families in the community. We can give you the names and phone numbers of child care providers. We encourage parents to choose quality child care.

Download our brochure "Your Guide to Choosing Child Care" (get Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Note: we do not guarantee quality or refer one provider over another and we accept no responsibility for child care providers. We feel that parents and legal guardians are in the best position to observe and select the site that best meets the needs of their children. Referrals are based on vacancies, scheduling needs, location, etc.

Listed below are a few steps you may consider taking while you search for quality child care.

  1. Allow time to find a quality program.
    Talking to many providers and visiting several programs will help you feel confident when you make this big decision.  If at all possible, begin several weeks ahead of time.  It may take some time to find a program and provider you are satisfied with.  Many providers often have waiting lists, especially for infants.  Knowing that your child is well cared for will be worth the effort and time you put into find the right program for your child.
  2. Consider the cost for child care.
    How much will child care cost?  Try to find the best program you can and then figure out how to pay for it.  Keep in mind that the child care program is the provider's business.  It is worth making sacrifices in other areas of your life for a few years so that you can invest in the best child care you can find.  Ask your employer whether any form of child care assistance is offered.  Also, find out whether you are eligible for child care subsidy

  3. Call the child care providers.
    Begin each phone call by asking if it's a good time to talk.  (If not, find out when is a better time to call back.)  Then you may want to discuss the following information including anything else that is important to you:

    • Available openings
    • Scheduling needs
    • Typical day routines
    • Location of child care

    • Fees the provider charges
    • Whether pets are present
    • Whether smoke is present
    • Unexpected parent-visits policy
    If you like what you hear on the phone, arrange a time to visit the child care site.  Never rely on another person's opinion of a program without checking it out for yourself.
  4. Visit the child care providers.
    Arrange a time to visit the providers at a time when other children are present so you can observe the interaction.  You may consider bringing your own child along with the understanding that it is only a visit and no decision will be made at this point.  Some things you may wish to look for during a visit:

    • Over-all positive feeling
    • Happy background noise
    • Provider focuses on children
    • Provider's personality is caring/energetic
    • Provider is affectionate with children

    • Positive guidance is used
    • Provider communicates effectively
    • Environment is safe with space for activities
    • Television is not "babysitting" 
    • Provider is prepared for emergencies
  5. Follow-up with questions.
    If you do not see enough during your visits ask the provider "what if" questions for various scenarios.  Schedule a time to talk if necessary.  You may wish to ask:

    • What outings will the group take and where?
    • What training or classes has the provider taken?
    • Does the provider take pre-arranged vacations?
    • Can parents bring mildly-ill children?
    • What is the policy when a child gets sick during the day?
    • What emergencies have happened and how were they handled?
    • Does the provider have a regular substitute caregiver?
  6. Ask for references.
    When you find a provider that you like, ask for names and phone numbers of parents that you can call as references.  Ask the parents about their children's experiences.  If they had to choose another time, would they choose that provider again?

  7. Make a decision.
    Weigh all of the information, trust your feelings, sort out what you feel strongly about and make a final decision.  Where would your child be happiest?  In which place were you most comfortable? 

    If you are not satisfied after checking out all of your possibilities you may wish to contact the referral counselor again for the names of other providers. 1-888-344-4896

CAC@Five County is an agency of Five County Association of Governments. Funding comes from DWS, Office of Work & Family Life.