Helping Parents

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) provides services that help parents make informed choices about the care of their children. Before starting your search we recommend you read Iowa CCR&R's Guide to Choosing Quality Child Care (Spanish, Burmese, Swahili) to give you a greater understanding about selecting a quality child care.

Free Referrals

CCR&R refers parents to programs that are most likely to meet their specific needs. Referrals are provided so that parents can look into all of their options - licensed Child Care Centers (CCC), licensed Preschools, registered Child Development Homes (CDH), nonregistered Child Care Homes (CCH) and Department of Education programs. CCR&R gives referrals instead of recommendations or suggestions because CCR&R encourages parents to take the time to research child care programs and providers and make the decision that they feel will be best for their family.

Parent Resource, Spanish

Selecting a Child Care Program - Child Care Aware of America Resources

Talk to a Parent Referral Specialist

Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m
or email our Parent Referral team:



Free Online Child Care Referrals 24/7 Direct Links:

Not From Iowa?
If you need child care in other parts of the country, connect with Child Care Aware or call 800-424-2246.

Helpful Tips for Families

1. Start Early

  • Locating the right child care provider may take some time.

2. Make a Call

  • Contact CCR&R to obtain a customized referral of child care programs for your family and information on how to choose quality child care.

3. Visit numerous programs to observe and ask questions

  • How many children are there for each adult?
  • How many children are in the group?
  • What training and education has the caregiver completed?
  • How long has the provider been working in this program?
  • Does the provider follow recommended ABC's of Safe Sleep (Spanish, Burmese, Swahili) practices?
  • Does the provider participate in the Iowa Quality Rating System? Find out more about Iowa's Quality Rating System.
  • Who is Caring for Your Child? - Parent Guide Brochure
  • Can I see your Emergency Preparedness Plan?
  • In the event of an emergency that leads to an evacuation, where is the new pick-up location for reunification with families?

4. Make a choice

Think about what you saw at each visit and make the best choice for your child and family. To ease the transition to child care:

  • Visit the child care program with the child to observe and participate.
  • Leave the child at the child care program for short periods of time.
  • Involve the child care provider in your decisions about this "easing in" period.

5. Stay Involved

  • Meet regularly with the provider and ask questions.
  • Visit often and participate in activities with your child.
  • Ask about planned emergency drills (both before and after) and updates to the programs Emergency Plan.


Check out our Choosing Quality Child Care in Iowa video below or click here for the full-length video!

Check out how we educate families on what quality care is and how to select the best program.

Helping Families with Emergency Preparedness

Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find. Learn more about creating a family communication plan here.

Need Help Paying for Child Care?

Depending on your family's income and size, you may qualify for a child care tax credit or subsidy. The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in your county can help you determine whether you meet eligibility requirements. Current assistance programs for child care include: Child Care Assistance (CCA), PROMISE JOBS and tax credits. To learn more and apply please visit the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website on Paying for Child Care or review Child Care Assistance Comm 62 (brochure in Spanish).

If you think you might qualify for Child Care Assistance (CCA), talk to your provider about accepting Child Care Assistance (CCA) payments.

Some local communities may have additional financial assistance in the form of scholarships or vouchers through community organizations. Click here to find your local Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) family support programs.

Are you interested in providing child care?

Explore your Child Development Home (CDH) registration options here.

Review Child Care Center (CCC) licensing requirements here.

Research all CCR&R services here.

Prevention Services

If you suspect a child under the age of 18 is being abused or neglected please call 800-362-2178 or visit Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) child abuse website. If you have concerns regarding a child care provider, please contact the Iowa Child Care Complaint Hotline at 844-786-1296. To increase understanding of how well programs meet the standards for licensing and registration, Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) posts information on monitoring visits. To check reports for your area, see the child care compliance and complaint report.