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Guidance: How to Choose a Child Care Program
As you search for a child care program, be sure to call and schedule a time to visit. Visit as many programs as you can to compare all your options. Below are things to do during your visit:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you see all the areas where your child will be learning, eating, sleeping and playing outside. Some questions to consider:
Are children watched at all times including outside and while they sleep?
Do adults and children wash their hands?
Is the play space organized and are materials easy to use?
Can your child access toys and materials throughout the day?
Are positive behavior guidance techniques used?
Look at interactions
Spend some time in the program observing the interactions between caregivers and children. Are the caregivers warm and welcoming? Do caregivers engage in conversation with the children? Do caregivers read to children?
Count children to adults
Ask how many children there are for each adult (adult/child ratios). Inquire about how much attention you child will get through the day. The fewer children for each adult may be better for your child. Find out how many children are in the group or classroom and consider that small groups may be better.
Ask about experience
Ask about the caregivers’ training, education and experience. Caregivers with education and training related to working with children may be better able to help your child learn. Check how long caregivers have been providing care at that program. It is usually best if your child can stay with the same caregiver for at least a year.
Check licensing care types
Be sure to also consider a program’s licensing care type when selecting a child care program. Learn more about these license types at Child Care Licensing. Learn about other care types such as Exempt, and Family Friend and Neighbor. Below is an explanation of different types in Utah:
Licensed Family Child Care:
A provider is licensed to have child care in their home. The adult/child ratios are one adult to eight children with no more than two children under the age of two, or one adult to six children with no more than three children under the age of two. The caregiver’s own children count in that ratio until they turn four years old.
Residential Certified (RC):
A provider is regulated to have child care in their home. The adult/child ratios are one adult to eight children with no more than two children under the age of two. The caregiver’s own children count in that ratio until they turn four years old. RC is considered a lower standard than a license because of the difference in ratios, group size, caregiver training and outdoor equipment standards.
Licensed Child Care Center:
Child care is provided in a non-residential setting on a regular schedule. The number of children allowed will be determined by the facility's total square footage.
Additional resources on selecting a child care program:
- How Providers are Screened by Child Care Licensing
- Steps to Choosing Care (English)
- Steps to Choosing Care (Spanish)
- Is this the Right Place for My Child (English)
- Is this the Right Place for My Child (Spanish)
- Choosing Quality Child Care for a Child With Special Needs (English)
- Choosing Quality Child Care for a Child With Special Needs (Spanish)