Let’s face it– trying to find child care can be hard. You want your child in a quality child care or early learning program. What do you look for so your child will be safe, happy and learning?
You want:
  • Your child safe and secure while you are at school or work.
  • Your child’s teachers to support and challenge your child to explore and learn new things.
  • Your child to learn skills needed for kindergarten.
  • You and your child to feel supported.
When looking for a program, search by address, early learning program name, or the age of your child. Get information about the program, like location, fees, and inspection reports. Watch the video below for more information.

What to Look For When You Visit

Your child is safe and secure. When you trust your child to someone else, you want to be sure that both you and your child feel safe. Child care programs must meet state health and safety regulations. Head Start programs are regulated by the federal government; preschool or pre-kindergarten programs can be regulated by either the Department of Human Services, regulated by the Department of Education, or regulated by the organization that runs them.

Look for:
• Department of Human Services child care certificate posted.
Check inspection and violation history of child care programs before you visit.

Ask about:

  • How the program is regulated and if it has any complaints or violations. 

There are good teachers and specialists that support you and your child. Because young children develop so many new skills so quickly in the first five years, teaching young children is special. It’s about nurturing, learning what a child can do, and helping the child build new skills on their own path. It’s important that your child’s teacher has some education in child development or early childhood education, like a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or college degree. If you are looking for an afterschool program, teachers may have a Pennsylvania School-Age Professional credential.

Look for:
• You and your child get along well with the teacher.
• Teachers encourage children to safely explore new things. Children are comfortable, happy, and involved in the classroom. If there is a conflict or a child needs to be disciplined, the teacher handles this in a positive way.

Ask about:
• Staff education and experience with young children.
• How long the teachers have been at the program. (Longer is better.)

The atmosphere is kid-friendly with learning areas and activities that are right for your child’s age and development. Young children learn by exploring and using many skills at once. Classrooms need to fit children with activities that work best for them.

Look for:
• Everything at kid level, with learning stations, books and activities that are not too easy or too hard for the children in the class. This is called developmentally appropriate.
• The class sizes are small enough that teachers have time to work one-on-one with your child throughout the day.

Ask about:
• How the teacher uses the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards in curriculum and learning activities. 

Find programs that meet your needs.

If you want to talk with someone to help decide what services are best for you, contact your county’s Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC). You can talk to someone over the phone or meet in person. They can help you understand all the options available in your area. Find your ELRC contact information here.

You can also search for programs by the age of your child, location, additional services and more.

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