Mississippi State Department of Health

Choosing a Child Care Provider


This page will help you select the right kind of child care based on your needs and those of your child.

Tools for Choosing a Child Care Provider

Choosing a Caregiver

Types of Child Care Facilities

In-Home Care

An in-home caregiver is someone who comes to, or lives in, your home. The caregiver can be a relative or a friend or can also be someone you pay to come to your home. If you have three or more children needing care, in-home care may be less expensive than other kinds of care. It can also save you from the worry of getting several children, all with different schedules, to and from a day care arrangement outside your home.

You may also want to use in-home care if your child needs special care because of a physical, mental or emotional problem; if you need care for an infant or toddler, or care for a child at night; if you need only after-school care. You should know, however, that in-home care can be costly, especially if you have only one or two children and are paying someone for full-time care. In interviewing in-home caregivers, you'll want to find out about their training and experience, their attitude toward children, and their ability to handle children who disobey.

Family Day Care

This kind of day care is provided in the home of the caregiver, who is often a mother with children of her own. You may find a relative, friend or neighbor who is willing to care for your child in this way. Or you may find a family day care home run by someone you do not already know.

Family day care can be a good arrangement: if you are a single parent raising a child alone; if you live in a rural area where family day care is likely to be the easiest to find; if you have only one or two children needing care; if you have a school-age child.

Keep in mind that a family day care provider may go out of business or stop caring for children at any time. And because many of these homes are not inspected or licensed by local or State agencies, it will be up to you to make sure that adequate health and safety standards are met.

Center-Based Care

Day care centers are established settings where children are cared for in a group away from their homes for all or part of the day. There are many different kinds of center-based care, including nursery schools, preschools, and parent cooperatives. Some of these centers are set up primarily to keep children safe and secure; others are designed to prepare children for their school years. Center-based care is most frequently available in a town or city.

Many day care centers have an organized program of activities to help children learn. Some centers follow a formal plan, perhaps one developed by a well-known educator. Others use a more informal program based on their day-to-day experience working with children.

You may be interested in center-based care: if you want to keep your child in the same day care setting for an extended period; if your child needs special care because of a physical or mental handicap or an emotional problem; if you want certain educational or religious activities for your child.

Keep in mind that center-based care may not provide the "home" atmosphere some children like. Your child may not be comfortable in a large group for a major part of each day.

In considering a particular day care center, check out the facilities available, the qualifications of the staff, and the number of children cared for by each caregiver (the "child/staff ratio"). Talk to the director to make sure the center's program has the approach you like and includes the kinds of activities you want for your child.

Safety and Health

Child care settings should offer a variety of activities for your child, both alone and with other children. Activities and their setting must be designed for safety.

Activities and Environment

Look at the child care program from the perspective of your child:

After you have selected a child care program, your job is not over. Remain involved. Talk regularly with your child care provider about activities, your child's development and behavior, and any other concerns you, your caregiver, or your child may have. Drop in on the program at different times and assess how things are going.

Regulations and Complaints

Links referenced on this page
What to look for when visiting a child care facility    http://msdh.ms.gov/page/resources/76.pdf
Find licensed child care facilities, inspections, and violations    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/30,0,183,707,html ok
More    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/30,0,183,html ok
Child Care Provider Regulation and Information    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/30,0,183,html ok
File a Child Care Complaint    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/30,0,183,787,html ok
Contact the Child Care Licensure Division    http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/30,0,183,61,html ok

Resources referenced
What to look for when visiting a child care facility    https://msdh.ms.gov/page/resources/76.pdf ok

Find this page at http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/index.cfm/index.cfm

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