Fewer families than ever before can afford to have a parent at home with the children at all times. Instead, many families must rely on child care providers to keep their children while they work. Finding high quality child care, selecting the right child care provider and paying for child care for your child are just some of the hurdles to ensuring your child’s emotional and intellectual development is promoted through their caregiver.

Regulating Child Care
Child care providers are regulated by state laws. In most cases, states require that providers are licensed by the government to care for more than a few children at one time. This limit varies by state. State laws also regulate a caretaker/child ratio for most situations.

-You can search for the state laws in your area.
-All caregivers should be licensed by State Child Care Licensing Agencies.
-Knowing Your Obligations is a fact sheet from the Americans with Disabilities Act website for Child Care Centers serving special needs children.

Child Care Training and Certification
Some states require caretakers to obtain specific certifications before running child care facilities. In states where these certifications are not required, the courses are often offered, either by the local department of children and family services, universities or community colleges. Courses for training teenagers to care for children are also available.

-The Florida Department of Children and Family Services offers training and certification for child care providers. Most other states offer similar programs.
-Childcare Training Courses for providers, as well as for friends and family of small children, are available from Texas A&M.
-The American Red Cross host babysitter certification classes, designed for 11 to 15-year-olds.

Child Care Organizations
There are several organizations which work to promote quality child care. They can also assist parents in evaluating child care facilities and selecting the best facility for their child.

-The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) is a network of resource and referral agencies that offer training , resources and standards in child care.
-The National Association for the Education of Young Children seeks to ensure children from birth to age 8 receive high-quality educational and developmental services.
-The National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC) is a professional organization for family child care providers. They also offer best practices and standards for their members.
-Especially for Parents is a resource for promoting educational excellence from the U.S. Department of Education.
-The National After School Association is an accrediting organization for afterschool programs.

Parenting Resources
From birth until age 5 are the most important years of physical, intellectual and emotional development for children. Both the government and nonprofit organizations offer resources to help parents and caregivers give their child the best start possible.

-Healthy Start, Grow Smart is a program from the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to get children ready for school by age 5.
-Learn the Signs. Act Early. is a program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It teaches parents about child development and what you can do if your child is not developing according to the developmental milestones.
-The Daily Parent is an online daily newsletter for parents.
-Early Childhood Education is a list of resources for parents and caregivers, from the U.S. Department of Education.
-Helping Your Preschool Child has resources and information for parents of children ages 2-5.

Choosing Child Care Providers
Selecting a childcare provider for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. There are resources and information online to help guide you through the process, as well as guidance if you has an issue with your current provider.

-Choosing Child Care Checklists can help you select a caregiver.
-Five Steps to Choosing Quality Child Care will help to ensure your child receives high-quality care.
-Finding Child Care in Your Area is provided by the organization Childcare Aware.

Child Care for Special Needs Children
For parents of special needs children, it can be even more difficult to secure affordable care for their children. Fortunately, there is information from parent groups, professionals and government agencies on the needs of special needs children in a child care environment.

-The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at Vanderbilt University has information on the special social and emotional needs of special needs children.