Last year Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) provided over 5,000 referrals to families looking for child care in Iowa. When parents call CCR&R looking for a list of child care providers, they also receive important information about how to choose quality child care. While we provide a list of programs specific to the family’s needs, we don’t offer recommendations or suggestions. Parents are responsible to call child care programs and set up an interview as well as time to view the program.
Tips we share with parents to use during their search for child care.
- Types of Care: We inform parents about the differences in types of care in Iowa. We talk about the benefits of child care homes, registered and non-registered, and licensed child care centers. We help parents understand which type of care might work best for their family, especially taking into consideration what days and hours care is needed.
- Family Involvement: We share with parents how important it is for them to be informed about their child’s day, through notes, texts or conversations. Parents should also be able to visit the program any time the program is open.
- Health and Safety: We encourage parents to be sure the child care environment is safe, clean and smoke free. Parents should ask providers about other health topics like handwashing practices and meal calendars. Parents should ensure that there are safety items in the programs such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and outlet covers.
- Daily Activities: We suggest parents talk with the program about what the daily schedule looks like and what activities and materials are accessible for the children. Parents should also view both the indoor and outdoor play spaces and be sure there are age appropriate toys available.
- Quality Initiatives: Parents are provided education about Iowa’s Quality Rating System, ChildNet Certification and National Accreditation programs. Although voluntary, participation in these statewide or national initiatives show a child care program’s commitment to providing quality child care by going above and beyond state requirements.
As a provider, you can help parents during their search for child care too.
- When a parent calls your program, even if you have no openings, take a second and return the call so the parents aren’t waiting. It looks good for you as a professional and business owner, which is an added bonus!
- You may also want to consider expanding your business hours or days you provide care to be more accessible to meet family’s needs. There is a lot of demand for “non-traditional” child care hours so if it works for you and your family, this might be a great way to expand your business.
- If you’re having trouble filling openings, call your local CCR&R to be sure your information is updated so you are going out for parent referrals.
Child care is one of the most important decisions parents can make. We encourage families to be well informed, explore their options and make a choice that works best for them.
When providers and families work together, it’s the children who benefit the most!