10 Tips for Finding Great Child Care

Evgeniya Usmanova

CareLuLu Mom-In-Chief
(Co-founder & COO)

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Thank you for sharing, Thara!

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When I needed to find a daycare and a preschool for my girls, I spent days on Google, on the phone, and then visiting child care providers. I visited 16 centers before settling for the one that felt right for us. In this post I will share 10 tips that I hope will help you in your search for finding great and affordable child care.

1. Start your child care search early, as far as a year in advance, especially if you live in a concentrated urban area like Washington D.C. or San Francisco. This is even more important if you will be looking for an infant. It’s usually more difficult to find space for an infant than for a 3 or 4 year old because of the teacher-to-child ratio: for infants, you must have 1 teacher for 3-4 infants (depending on the State) but for a 4 year olds, it’s around 10.

2. Create an email account for your daycare search. If you plan on visiting lots of child care centers or posting an ad online, you will most likely get tons of emails from child care providers. To ensure you don’t get your personal email inundated, get a temporary new email account.

3. Research schools before you visit them. Use CareLuLu to find child care options that fit your specific needs whether it is cost, services offered or teacher education. This will save you time by not visiting daycares that are out of your budget, for instance. CareLuLu allows you to compare providers in your area and unlike other care finding sites, it also offers tuition rates so you won’t need to call or visit just for that!

4. Request to see a child care license (State license or County permit) and make sure it hasn’t expired. This is really critical and will ensure that minimum standards are met in terms of safety, teachers’ education, and staff background checks.

5. Spend time talking to the director during your visit (or the assistant director) to see how engaged they seem. I’ve spoken to lots of directors as a parent in search of child care and some have shown a lot more interest in being accommodating and in working with me. Your discussion during the tour is usually quite telling of how helpful and flexible the director will be once your child is actually enrolled.

6. Upper management is just as important as the teachers. Directors have a great impact over the morale and atmosphere of the entire school. Happy teachers generally means happy kids, so if possible, see how well the management and the teachers seem to get along. A frequent change of directors is a bad sign.

7. Ask about teacher turnover rates. Teachers that work at the same center for a long time provide stability, which is much needed for children to develop a strong relationship with their caregivers. You should ask specifically about the tenure of the teacher(s) that would care for your child.

8. If tuition is important, say so (and ask for a special deal!) If tuition is critical in your decision making, point it out to the school and say that you’re considering other daycare options in the area. They may be more willing to give you a reduced rate. Also, be sure to ask for discounts and special deals. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! This is surprising to most parents but saving $100-$200 can be as simple as asking if they can waive the registration fee (a lot of them do.)

9. Ask for a free Discovery Day before enrolling. Although not all child care providers advertise it or even offer it, some schools do allow you to bring your child for a few hours or even a day to test out the school. See how your child feels about the center before committing yourself to it.

10. Ask the school for at least three parent references. Don’t be shy and do call those parents to get their feedback on the school. You will likely learn something the school administrator didn’t mention. Stay away from child care providers that are reluctant to give you references.

I hope this helps! What about you, what are your own tips for finding that perfect child care? Please share them with others!

About the author

Evgeniya Usmanova

CareLuLu Mom-In-Chief
(Co-founder & COO)


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  • I spent six months looking at different nurseries. I made a list, then called or emailed them in order to arrange a viewing appointment. After that meeting only I decided. I even toured several local nurseries within twenty miles of my house as well.

    Always have a list of things to discuss. Take a look at their websites for more details. Or go in to talk over things instead. I usually scheduled a initial face to face interview with the staff there to talk all things nurseries. Good luck. Try finding out everything.

  • Looking for a daycare near or in Loraine Illinois that doesn’t cost a arm and a leg. I will be starting up work here shortly. Any info please contact me.

  • I am looking for a new childcare facility for my youngest. I like your tip to ask about teacher turnover. I have not thought about this before. This is a great question to ask. I will be sure to bring this up.

  • That’s a great idea to spend time talking to the director of the facility and to take a tour. If you plan on a tour, it may be a good idea to show up unannounced. That way you can see what the care center is like when they haven’t been expecting a visitor.

  • Thanks for mentioning that not only should I meet with the teachers, but I should also meet with the directors of the program. My daughter is getting older so I am looking for a great child day care center that will really help her grow. To make sure this happens, I’ll definitely meet with the directors of different child day care centers to make sure they also want to help my daughter develop.

  • I really like your tip for a free discovery day. My wife and I are starting to look for a new daycare because our current one is moving away. I’ll have to share this with my wife.

  • I love your advice to research the schools before you visit them. I don’t think that a lot of people do adequate research. As a result, they are unhappy with their decision. Do you have any other tips about finding good child care? My daughter is getting older, and we want to make sure that we choose the right preschool for her.

  • These are some helpful tips for finding child care options. I like how you talked about starting your search about a year in advance. I am a big procrastinator, and so that is a good thing to keep in mind when I have my first child.

  • I loved your advice to research the preschool before you check it out. You really want to be sure that you are doing what you can to have your school of choice be a good one. One of the best ways to do that is to know as much as you can about your choice. Do you have any other tips about finding a good preschool?

  • I just moved to a new city and definitely need to find a good child care center for my two kids, but I’m pretty picky about who watches my kids. However, I really like the idea of asking for a free Discovery day before enrolling my kids there, because that would help me to know whether or not they were comfortable there. Yet, do you think that I should stay with them while they are testing out the center?

  • This is nice. I am new is Vegas and I will like to put my baby on a day care and to start to work …is hard in a new contry,and I am trying to find the best for my baby boy.

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