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Choosing and Using Child Care
By www.4women.gov

Many moms today work and rely on child care for their children. Relatives or family members sometimes take on child-care duties, or children are enrolled in child-care programs. All parents wish the best start for their children. Child care is more than just a service that allows parents to work. It is a world that will affect a child's development in many ways – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.

Finding quality child care that is affordable can be challenging. Many parents need inexpensive or cost-free day care where they know their children are safe and are being helped to grow and develop. Parents can contact their local social service agency (listed in the phone book) for information about government-sponsored programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start and other community programs.

The National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) recommends taking the following steps to choosing quality child care. Also, we have provided a Child Care Provider Checklist for evaluating possible child care providers.

Steps to Choosing Quality Child Care
Look. Visit several child care homes or centers. Visit the home or center more than once and stay as long as possible so you can get a good feel for what the care will be like for your child. Continue to visit even after you start using the home or center.

Listen. Make sure the place is cheerful and not too quiet, which can mean not enough activity. Happy-sounding children means they are involved and busy.

Count. Count the number of children in the group and the number of staff members caring for them. The fewer the number of children for each staff member, the more attention your child will get.

Ask. Adults who care for children need knowledge and experience. Ask about the background and experience of all staff that will have contact with your child in the home or center.

Be Informed. Find out more about efforts in your community to improve the quality of child care. Ask if the home or center is involved in these activities. Consider getting involved yourself.

Visit the web sites of the following organizations for more guidelines on choosing child care.

The National Child Care Information Center
Child Care Aware
Head Start Information and Publication Center
American Psychological Association
American Academy of Pediatrics

More Fact Sheets and Resources

The information presented on this site is intended solely as a general educational aid, and is neither medical nor healthcare advice for any individual problem, nor a substitute for medical or other professional advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your unique circumstances. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition and before starting any new treatment.

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