How to Choose Quality Child Care

Follow these steps to choose quality care for your child.

Step 1: Decide What Type of Child Care to Use

Choose a child care provider that will bring security and peace of mind. Ideally, your child care provider should:

  • Be operating legally (this means the care provider has a licence, or is registered, and/or has the appropriate number of children in their care)
  • Be qualified to care for children
  • Follow strict standards of practice
  • Be regularly monitored and inspected

Compare the different types of child care providers who are legally operating in B.C. and decide which one will work best for your family.

Step 2: List the Things You Want from a Child Care Provider

Make 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 child care.

You may also want to identify you child's unique needs, strengths and interests. Include any special concerns you have about your child that you think a child care provider may need to know about.

Prepare a list of questions you might want to ask, for example:

  • Could you please describe your approach to child care?
  • Are you licensed or unlicensed?
  • Do you have space available?
  • How many children do you care for?

Find a list of questions to consider in the following guide:

Step 3: Search for Available Child Care Spaces

Step 4: Review Child Care Inspection Reports

Licensed child care facilities are inspected by local health authorities every 12-18 months for health and safety, staff qualifications and ratios, and policies and procedures. As part of your search for quality child care, reviewing inspection reports for the licensed child care facilities you're interested in can help you decide if a facility meets your needs for quality.

If your chosen provider is unlicensed (or licence-not-required), you should also check that the provider is not operating without a licence when one is required.

Step 5: Contact Child Care Providers

Contact the child care providers you are interested in and ask if they have space available. Consider visiting the program to see the setting and meet the care providers.

Use the tips and checklists in the following guide to help with this step:

Getting to know your care provider is important. They're an excellent resource to rely on. Feel free to ask them questions or raise concerns. They can also work with you to figure out government funding or explore other opportunities for your family.

Step 6: Apply for Funding

Check to see how new child care funding programs in B.C. can benefit your family.

Step 7: Help Your Child Have a Successful Transition

Have plenty of relaxed, open conversations with your child about their new routine and care providers. To help them feel more comfortable:   

  • Explain what they’ll be doing
  • Tell them who will drop them off and pick them up
  • Arrange to visit the program with your child before it’s time to start – get to know the place and the people there

Before your child starts, share important information with your provider. For example:

  • Who can and cannot pick up your child
  • Allergy and medical information
  • Your contact information
  • Emergency contact information

It is also helpful to share information on a daily basis about your child’s routines, likes and dislikes, sleeping and eating habits, or any changes to the home routine. For example, tell them if your child had a restless night, isn’t feeling well or didn’t eat breakfast.