When looking for child care outside of your home, there are many things to consider. Your child's age is important. A very young child requires a great deal of the provider's attention. While an older child also needs attention, the opportunity to interact with other children is often of equal importance.

You should also consider your child's temperament. If your child is outgoing and talkative, he or she will probably do well in a group setting. If your child is shy and quiet, consider an environment with fewer children and adults with whom to interact.

You will also want to talk with potential caregivers about any special needs or disabilities of your child. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides that caregivers must discuss each potential new enrollee's special needs with the child's parents and make reasonable efforts to include children with disabilities in their programs.

Once you have an idea of what will best fit your child, there are other quality indicators to look for in a child care setting. There are 6 tips that will help you know what to look for in your search for quality child care. Click next at the bottom of each page to move to the next tip.


Play & Learn

Quality child care offers many opportunities for all children to play each day. Counting, reading skills and problem solving are just a few things learned through play.

Tip: Look for a provider who focuses on all aspects of your child's development including language, social, emotional, physical and cognitive. 


Qualifications

There are different caregiver qualifications for different child care settings. Training, education, experience and credentials prepare a child care provider to meet your child's developmental needs.

Tip: Request a provider's qualifications and references to learn more about their child care experience.


Positive Interactions

A quality child care provider guides children, helping them to get along with others in caring, positive ways, and encourages you to be involved as well.

Tip: Look for a provider who is enthusiastic, attentive and encouraging.


Program Quality

Child care programs can participate in the Illinois Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS) or National Accreditation. Programs that have a Quality Counts QRS certification or accreditation have met voluntary standards for quality child care that are higher than the state licensing requirements.

Tip: Ask the provider if their program has a Quality Counts QRS certification or is accredited.


Environment

A quality child care environment is safe, clean and provides all children with many learning opportunities.

Tip: Look for a setting where the children are supervised at all times, nutritious meals and snacks are served, and where toys and learning activities are based on the age of the child.


Financial Assistance

The Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides financial help for families who meet income and work or education/training requirements.

Tip: To find out if you qualify for help with your child care costs contact your local CCR&R or click here for more help on paying for child care.