How to Choose Quality Child Care in BC
Follow these steps for a smooth transition to quality child care:
Step 1 – Make a list: Begin by developing a list of the things you feel are important to you and your child – such as the hours and location of care, qualifications of care providers, and their approach to raising children.
Step 2 – Visit the location: If you find a child care program you like and there’s space available, arrange to go and observe the setting and meet the care provider.
Use the checklists in the following guide to help choose the right child care provider:
- Observing the Child Care Setting (PDF) (see pages 13 &14)
Step 3 – Choose licensed or unlicensed: Unlicensed child care arrangements (also known as licence-not-required) are made between parents and a caregiver – such as a neighbour, relative or friend. They don’t have to meet provincial regulations and are not inspected by health authorities. It is up to you to research and monitor an unlicensed child care arrangement.
Licensed child care programs provide care for three or more children. They must meet specific requirements for health and safety, licence application, staffing qualifications, staff to child ratio, space and equipment and program standards.
Step 4 – Make your decision: Consider how the child care facility meets your family’s needs and values. Review the information you gathered and discuss it with family and friends. Trust your own initial feelings about the facilities, the programming and the people – if the setting feels right to you, it will probably be good for your child.
Step 5 – Help with a successful transition: When it’s time to start your child in day care, talk to them about the new routine to help them feel comfortable:
- Explain what they’ll be doing
- Tell them a bit about the child care provider(s) – their names and what they’re like
- Mention who will drop them off and pick them up
You may even arrange to visit the program before it’s time to start – so that your child can get to know the place and the people there.
As the routine begins, be sure to share with the child care provider(s) information about:
- Your child’s likes and dislikes, sleeping and eating habits or any other changes to the routine – for example, tell them if your child had a restless night, isn’t feeling well or didn’t eat breakfast
- Your child’s progress
- Any concerns you may have
Finally, make an effort to be involved as much as possible - attend special events and be on time for pick up at the end of the day.
Some parents like to review inspection results for licensed child day care facilities before sending their child there. Inspection reports are not designed to recommend or rate facilities, or provide personal information about children in care. When making the decision about quality child care, it’s best to gather information from many sources – including an in-person visit to the facility.
Here are reports for child care programs across the province: