Child Care

Infants and toddlers often spend at least some of their time being cared for by people other than their parents. Whether with relatives, friends, or in a child care setting, all children need a place where they will be safe and healthy… and where they will thrive.

Choosing the best child care can be a difficult decision for parents because there are so many factors to consider.

  • Do you prefer a child care centre or a home-based setting? Is licensed child care important to you?
  • Do you want child care to be close to your home or workplace?
  • How can you learn about the options that exist close to where you live?

Finding Child Care

Ask your local public health department for information about safe and reliable child care and how to find out if you qualify for a child care subsidy.

Once you know what you want and how much you can afford, doing some research will help you to choose the child care that best meets your needs and those of your child.

Research the Child Care Choices

Once you have a list of child care options, begin with telephone interviews. Write down the questions you want to ask. If you are satisfied with the answers you receive, make a plan to visit the centres and homes in person. According the Canadian Child Care Federation, quality child care settings have several things in common:

  • clean, safe, and secure
  • a caring, learning environment
  • a small number of children with each adult
  • space for quiet and active times, indoor and outdoor play
  • a balance of interesting activities
  • flexible, yet predictable daily routine
  • a variety of toys and equipment
  • nutritious meals and snacks

Don’t rely on first impressions. A nice provider is not always a quality provider. Ask about hours, fees, discipline, policies on sickness, vacations, and how parents can be involved. What are their rules about early or late pick-up or drop-off?

Your relationship with the caregiver is also very important. Does the caregiver agree with you on discipline? Weaning? Toilet training? Feeding?

After visiting the different child care sites, you will probably be able to narrow your list down to just a few choices. You might want to drop in unexpectedly to see how you are greeted.

Check references before you make a final decision and make sure the child care agreement is in writing. This can prevent misunderstandings later on.

Finally, find out if all the adults who will work with your child have had a criminal background check.

Questions to Ask about Activities and the Site:
  • Are activities and schedules explained to your child?
  • Are toys and materials well organized so your child can choose what interests him or her?
  • What program (curriculum) is used for children of different ages?
  • Can the caregiver and the environment accommodate any special needs?
  • Is the site appealing, with good lighting and an acceptable noise level?
  • Can a parent visit at any time?
  • Will your child feel good about coming here?

To Learn More…

Canadian Child Care Federation::