BBB Tip of the Week: Choosing Child Care

reading to children Finding the right person to take care of your children is one of the hardest tasks for any parent. You want your children to be safe and to be nurtured, but you also want someone who shares your values.

BBB has the following tips for parents seeking quality child care:

  • Visit several facilities or caregivers, and find out how staff are selected and what their credentials are. What is the staff-to-child ratio? How are children grouped, such as by age or stage of development?
  • Ask whether the facility is licensed by the state or local community and whether it carries appropriate liability insurance.
  • Ask about safety procedures and how an accident might be handled. What will happen if your child is hurt or becomes ill while at the center? Will you be called or notified before you arrive to pick up your child?
  • Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is a deposit required, and is it refundable? Are fees charged if a parent is late picking up a child? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered? Is financial assistance available?
  • Ask about the balance between structured and unstructured activities. What happens during naptime? How are babies put down for naps, and how often are they checked when sleeping? What if your child can’t go to sleep?
  • Make sure the center or day care home is clean, with enough space for children to play and adequate safety equipment.
  • Call at least three parents whose children are enrolled in the program to discuss their experiences.
  • Ask if your child can spend part of the day in the day care center or home before you enroll. Discuss the experience with the caregiver or center personnel.
  • Be alert to your child’s reaction and behavior. Allow plenty of time for adjustment, especially in the first day or first week at the center. Call or visit the facility once your child is enrolled to find out how the child is doing and to establish rapport with the staff.

Check a child care center’s BBB Business Review by calling 314-645-3300 or visit

For more BBB tips, go to BBB’s Consumer Tips page.


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