Tips On Choosing A Licensed Child Care Service

A licensed group child care service allows children to learn and play in a healthy, secure, and friendly environment. Some of the questions a parent should ask when looking for a licensed group child care service are:

  • Is group child care what I really want for my child?
  • Do I want it to be close to home or work?
  • Do the hours fit my schedule?
  • Would I feel comfortable leaving my child there?
  • Can I afford it?

A parent or care giver will answer these questions differently according to the situation and needs of the child. However, there are some basics things that all parents and caregivers should look for in a group child care service. . The following document, prepared by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Child Care, tells you what some of those things are and suggests how you can find them.

Start your search early:
  • If possible, give yourself at least three months to find a good program.
  • Call the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Child Care for names of licensed services.
  • Call the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Vacancy Information number to find out if you are eligible for publicly funded child care services.
  • Talk to relatives, friends, and neighbors. They may be able to recommend child care services or tell you which to avoid, based on their own experiences.
Compare your choices:
  • Always visit a service before enrolling your child, no matter how highly the service was recommended.
  • Visit more than one service so that you can compare the types and quality of services provided.
  • Visit each service before enrollment.
  • Talk to the director, look at the service, and visit all classes, especially the ones your child will be in.
Yes No Questions to ask during your visit:
Is the service licensed? All out of home child care services for seven or more children under 6 years of age must be licensed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Child Care.
Can you drop in to see your child without calling first? According to New York City and State laws, parents must be able to see their children or take them out of the service at anytime.
Do the director and group teachers have experience and training in child care? In order to best help the children learn and grow, the director and teaching staff of licensed services must have special training and degrees in teaching young children.
Is there enough staff to give the children the attention they need? There should be at least one teacher and one assistant for each group of 10 two year olds, 15 three year olds, 20 four year olds, and 25 five year olds.
Is the staff available for parental conferences? The staff should keep parents informed about their children's progress and problems. Parents should have a chance to discuss the policies and operations of the service.
Does the service provide meals? All services should provide time for a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Some services also serve breakfast and lunch. If lunch and snack are not served, parents must provide home-packed lunches and snacks and the service must have a refrigerator for storing them.
Do the children get a rest period during the day? Children attending full-child programs must have quiet, relaxed period of about one hour a child. The service must provide separate cots, cribs or mats for each child to rest.
Are special health exams required for the children and staff? According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the service must require that children be up to date with their immunization and have regular health exams. The staff must have yearly health exams and TB test (PPD).
Are sick children properly cared for? The service must give parents specific instructions about when a sick child must be kept at home. The service must have a plan for separating sick children from the other children until the parents can pick them up.

Make a decision:

  • After your visit, go home and think about what you saw.
  • Visit other services and compare what you saw at each of them.
  • Think about your feelings when you visited each service.
  • Call the service director or the Bureau of Child Care again if you have further questions.
  • Be sure that the service you choose has a current license and meets your needs for location, hours, and cost.
  • Go over the checklist for each service you visited before making the choice.
  • Ask yourself: Would I feel comfortable leaving my child at the service.

For more information, call 311 .