Finding childcare provider can be time consuming and confusing. Start early, give yourself as much time as you can. Three months at least would be advisable as childcare centers often have waiting lists. Family homes may have more frequent openings. Know what you can afford. Childcare rates do vary. Here are some steps to help you while you are looking for a childcare provider.

Find childcare providers. The Department of Children, Youth and Families is a good resource for finding a licensed daycare. Review the list of licensed daycare providers (pdf) throughout the Puget Sound that UW students have used. This list is not an endorsement or guarantee of services.

Research potential providers. Review the website of a potential provider, and reach out to them to ask questions. Some examples of questions are listed below.

  • What are your operating hours?
  • What is a typical day like? Ask to see a schedule of their activities.
  • How much time do the children spend outside each day?
  • What is your policy regarding naptime?
  • What is your discipline policy?
  • Do the children watch TV or DVDs? How often?
  • What is your policy regarding sick kids?
  • Do you have a sick care option?
  • Do I have to pay for days when my child is absent due to illness or vacation?
  • What types of meals and snacks do you serve?
  • Do you charge extra if I’m late picking up my child?
  • What is your overall childcare philosophy?
  • What is your security/safety policies?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children?
  • What is the drop-in policy?
  • Are you licensed with the Department of Early Learning?

Make an appointment. If you like their responses and are interested in them, make an appointment. Before your visit make a list of things that are important to you and your child. If you are happy with the daycare make another appointment to visit with your child. Some examples of things to consider are:

  • How does the staff relate to the children?
  • How do the children interact with one another?
  • Are activities structured and appropriate for your child’s age group?
  • Do you and your family feel comfortable when you are there?
  • Do you feel welcome?
  • Will your child be happy there?
  • Observe the living and play environment, look for clean and safe areas free of clutter or potential safety hazards.
  • Do you see pictures, books, etc. reflecting your family’s culture?
  • Is the noise level reasonable for the activities taking place?
  • Is there a variety and choice of activities for the children?

Decision. If both you and your child like the daycare then you need to decide if this is the caregiver that you have chosen.

Follow up. Once your decision is made then you will want to continue to communicate frequently with your care provider regarding your child and how they are doing. You will also want to talk with your child and watch them to see how they respond to the new caregiver.