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Tips When Shopping Around for Childcare

Working outside the home is common in many parts of the country yet doing so may not necessarily be easy for many households. With many single parents, dual-income households, and other circumstances to work around, accommodating the needs of young children can pose a challenge. However, by finding quality childcare to help fill scheduling gaps, these types of families can have more peace of mind knowing that their little ones are taken care of while they are away for work or simply in need of an extra hand. By understanding the type of factors to consider when on the search for childcare options, it can be easier to get a good fit for your lifestyle and budget.
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Child’s Age

First and foremost, a child’s age will quickly rule out some options you have available in your community. Many facilities separate children by age to make group activities that are developmentally appropriate and easy to administer and allows children to interact with their peers during instruction and play. This being the case, it’s recommended that you ensure that the facility you choose caters to children that are your child’s age.

The Ratio of Caregivers to Children

While licensed facilities will need to abide by both federal and state laws, it is good to be aware of the ratio of caregivers to children that a childcare facility has to ensure that your child will get adequate attention for both educational and safety reasons. Additionally, this can give you a good idea of whether or not your prospective caregivers will make the effort to keep current with recommendations set by childcare experts and legislators.

Parent Participation

As the old adage goes, it often takes an entire village to raise children. In a childcare setting, this often means having open communication between educators and parents. This can make it easier to create an optimal environment and consistency for a child that can benefit from learning and overall well-being. It can be helpful to ask about volunteer opportunities, communication methods, and drop-in schedules available for parents who would like to participate more actively.

Waiting List and Enrollment Requirements

Before you allow your heart to get set on a specific childcare option, it’s practical to keep in mind that Little Sunshine's Playhouse and other high-quality facilities may very well have waiting lists of other families who would also like to enroll their children. Before filling out paperwork or researching hours on one childcare option, asking about the waiting list ahead of time can save you time, especially if you have a need for immediate enrollment for a more specific timeline of when you need to have your child start. In addition, it may be recommended that you check any requirements your child must fulfill before even being accepted. For example, immunizations, minimum hours of care that must be paid for are just two common considerations that need to be made as soon as possible.

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Special Needs

If your child has special needs, it is important to check that the childcare options you are considering can provide all the necessary accommodations. For example, children who use wheelchairs or other assistive equipment should be able to easily maneuver around with pathways that are wide enough and ramps that allow access to any elevated areas when necessary. Finding a caregiver that is ADA compliant can be a great start for families with children with special needs. Even something as simple as potty training may be something that families will want to research to ensure that their prospective choices can support whichever stage their child may be in.


One of the biggest barriers to childcare accessibility is pricing. Some plans for registration fees and other expenses may be easier on the pocketbook for budget-conscious families. For example, some private facilities may be more costly but may also have better features and services that make them worth the investment. In contrast, government programs may be less expensive, but it’s possible that lower rates may result in more crowded spaces or longer waitlists. Some places may require all families to pay the same rate while others may offer special discounts. These discounts can be based on factors such as household income, the number of siblings enrolled in the same program, military status, or memberships.

Type of Facility

It can be very useful to know the different types of childcare facilities that exist so you are aware of all your potential options. Some families may opt to have a private nanny who can supervise children in the family home, provide one-on-one attention to children, and tend to light housekeeping. In contrast, others may prefer the peer socialization opportunities that a larger childcare facility may be able to provide in addition to the convenience of knowing that a team of professionals can tend to children. Additionally, some schools in the community may even offer pre-kindergarten programs that can give young children an earlier start. Although this is a great option, especially for families with an older sibling attending the same school, enrollment opportunities, as well as the length of the school day, may be limited so it’s best to check directly with the schools in your community.
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