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How to Choose a Child Care Provider

How to Evaluate and Choose a Child Care Provider

What you need to know to make the right child care choice

Costs and the Affordable Child Care Benefit

Did you know?

Children's well-being and development suffer when they have poor quality care, and even an advantaged family background can't protect them.
(Partners in Quality, Canadian Child Care Federation, 1999)

Why is quality child care important?

  • Because the first six years of life are crucial for children's development;
  • Because the parents of almost 800,000 children under the age of six were working or studying full time in 1996, and most of those children were in child care;
  • Because children's well-being and development suffer when they have poor quality care, and even an advantaged family background can't protect them.

(G. Doherty, "Elements of Quality," Research Connections Canada: Supporting Children and Families (Ottawa: Canadian Child Care Federation, 1999) vol. 1, 6.)

What is quality child care?

High quality child care is extremely important in the lives of children and families. It helps children to develop skills they will need for the rest of their lives; it supports families in their child-rearing role by providing a warm and nurturing environment for their children as well as knowledgeable and empathetic adults who are their willing partners in this enterprise; and it plays an important role in the community's ability to support the business of living their lives. (Partners in Quality Communities CCCF, 1999)

Quality child care should support a child's emotional, social, intellectual and physical well being. (CCCF Resource sheet #34)

Indicators of quality child care

Quality care involves a variety of factors that affect children, parents, staff, and caregivers. Adult-child ratio, group size, caregiver training and education, the curriculum, physical environment, interactions, parent involvement and relationships are among the aspects which need to be recognized as part of the child care environment. Many of these factors are identified in research which examines issues related to quality child care. (Administering Early Childhood Settings The Canadian Perspective, Yeates, McKenna, Warberg, Chandler)

The following elements are important for quality child care:

  • a caregiver who is warm, sensitive and responsive;
  • a safe, healthy environment;
  • activities that stimulate the child's development;
  • good communication between the parent and the provider;
  • a child-rearing philosophy that matches the parent's philosophy, especially where discipline is concerned.

(Partners in Quality Issues CCCF, 1999)

You will also want to look for the following in a caregiver:

  • a sense of humour
  • patience
  • responsibility
  • confidentiality
  • good health
  • lots of energy
  • confidence
  • creativity
  • organization

As well you will want to look at the environment. The following should be considered:

  • furniture for care, play and learning
  • furniture for relaxation
  • space for privacy
  • space for gross motor activity
  • room arrangement
  • child-related display

Research shows that the most important ingredient of high-quality early education and care is the relationship between the teacher and the child. (Quoted in "Elements of Quality" 33)

Choosing Child Care: What to consider in your decision...

Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make. Before making that decision there are some things to consider. The following information includes items you should consider in your decision. For more information please contact your Child Care Resource & Referral office.

  • What needs and priorities are important to you and your child? You may want to consider the following before you start your search.
  • What days and hours of care do you require?
  • Which location would you prefer the care to be close to; home, school or work?
  • What is the best type of care for your child and family? (group setting, family setting)
  • What fees can you afford?
  • Are you eligible for a government child care subsidy? Affordable Child Care Benefit
  • What qualifications do you want your child care provider to have?
  • Do you want your child care provider to be a member of any child care organizations or support groups?
  • Do you want your child care provider to be continuously upgrading herself by participating in child related training or workshops?
  • What guidance methods do you and your child prefer?
    • All licensed child care facilities in British Columbia are required to have a guidance and discipline policy as per section 27 of the Child Care Licensing Regulation.
    • Please see the booklet Guiding Children's Behaviour • Ministry of Health, or go to the Guiding Children's Behaviour

Choosing Child Care: Finding potential child care providers

Once you have considered the above information it is now time to find potential child care providers. Please find your community and use the Parents & Families menu to find a Child Care Provider in your area.

Choosing Child Care: Questions to ask potential child care providers

When you have received several names of child care providers or facilities, it is time to pick up the phone and call the names on your list. But before you do, you will want to jot down some of the questions you will want to ask over the phone. These questions could include any of the following:

  • Are you licensed?
    • If you are licensed, has your program ever been under investigation by the local health authority? Is your program currently being investigated?
    • If you are not licensed, are you registered with the local Child Care Resource and Referral Program?
  • How many children do you care for?
  • What ages are the children in your care?
  • What are your hours of operation? What days are you closed?
  • What are your fees?
  • What child care experience and training do you have?
  • What do you do with the children over a typical day/week?
  • Does your program have any special features?
  • What are your arrangements for when you are ill or on holiday, or in case of emergency?
  • Do you encourage parent involvement? Can I visit whenever I wish?
  • Who supplies diapers, blankets, meals, or snacks?
  • Do you accept children who require extra support? Why/Why not?
  • Are you willing to adapt your program to meet the needs of a child who requires extra support?
  • Can you give me at least two references, preferably of parents who have used your child care setting.
  • Does anyone in your child care setting smoke? (Note: Smoking is not permitted in licensed facilities). What is your smoking policy when children are present?
  • Do you have space available?
    • If not:
      • Is there a waiting list?
      • How long is the waiting list?

Child Care Costs

The cost of paying for child care is a major consideration for most families. A large part of family income is needed to pay for high quality child care programs.

There are many reasons why child can be so expensive. Some of the reasons include high ratios of adults to children, provider qualifications, location of care and costs of space, insurance, equipment and special programs. Quality care for infants and toddlers can be especially expensive due to small group sizes.

For more information regarding "typical" child care rates for your area, contact your Child Care Resource & Referral Program.

Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB)

You may be eligible for the Affordable Child Care Benefit to help with your childcare costs.

What is the Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB)? - The ACCB is a monthly payment provided through the provincial government that helps British Columbia families with low incomes meet the costs of child care. The ACCB is available to parents who meet eligibility to help cover the fees for child care. The ACCB is paid directly to the child care provider (except in the case of care in the child's home), and the parent is responsible for pay the difference between the full cost of care and the amount that the subsidy covers.

Parents may be eligible if they...

  • Are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or refugee
  • Live in and receive child care in BC
  • Demonstrate financial eligibility
  • Are using an eligible type of child care (licensed group, family or preschool; license-not-required or registered license-not-required; in child's home)
  • Are employed or self employed; seeking work; attending school; in an employment program; are considered to have a medical condition that interferes with the ability to care for children
  • Have child care recommended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)

For information on how to apply for the Affordable child care benefit click on the link below.

Affordable Child Care Benefit

Affordable Child Care Benefit for parents

Your local Child Care Resource and Referral Program can be of assistance with accessing affordable child care benefit in the following ways:

  • Provide support in accessing the Affordable Child Care benefit information
  • Assist with filling out the forms, if help is needed

The CCRR Office has a publicly accessible computer - parents may go online and access the ACCB information which will give them a general sense of whether or not they may be eligible for funding.


Phone: 1-888-338-6622

NOTE: Parents accessing care from a license-not-required child care provider who is registered with the Child Care Resource and Referral program, are entitled to a higher rate of subsidy. Contact your local CCRR to find out about what it takes to become registered.

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