Choosing Child Care

Do you need help finding child care?

Finding the right child care program for your child may seem very challenging.  We have resources to help you!   Breaking it down into steps works well:  www.dpw.state.pa.us/ServicesPrograms/ChildCareEarlyEd/003670911.htm

How to find child care providers . . .

You can get a list of child care providers in the Lehigh Valley by calling the CCIS or by going on-line to www.dpw.state.pa.us/ServicesPrograms/ChildCareEarlyEd/003671396.aspx  

The lists include providers who are regulated by the state of Pennsylvania, and STARS indicate participation in Pennsylvania’s quality care initiative.  Referrals do not imply recommendation by Child Care Information Services or any guarantee of quality.    

What types of care are available in the Lehigh Valley?

Child Care Centers

kids8.jpgCenters must comply with PA regulations and are inspected for compliance before opening, once a year after that, and when there are complaints.  Centers are licensed for a specific number of children and are required to have sufficient staff for the number of children present within certain age groups.  Centers generally have set hours for opening and closing and a schedule of holidays when they are closed.  Centers may be for-profit or non-profit and individual sites or part of a larger organization.  Some centers provide meals, while others ask parents to bring meals.  Information about regulations for child care centers is available at  www.dpw.state.pa.us/PartnersProviders/ChildCareEarlyEd/003678427.htm

Many child care centers in the Lehigh Valley participate in the Keystone STARS program.  To learn more about the STARS program and what it means for you when choosing child care: www.dpw.state.pa.us/ServicesPrograms/ChildCareEarlyEd/003674743.htm


Family and Group Child Care Homes

Typically operated within a child care provider’s own home, family and group child care homes must comply with PA regulations www.dpw.state.pa.us/PartnersProviders/ChildCareEarlyEd/003678427.htm
and may participate in the STARS program www.dpw.state.pa.us/ServicesPrograms/ChildCareEarlyEd/003674743.htm .  A family child care home may serve no more than 6 children at any one time, and a group child care home may serve up to 12 children at any one time as long as there are sufficient staff.  Family and group providers operate small businesses and set their own hours, rates, and policies. 

Other Options

Caregivers who care for fewer than 3 children are not required to be regulated by the state of Pennsylvania.  Any caregiver should be carefully interviewed and references checked.  Parents may want to ask the caregiver for criminal history and child abuse clearances. 

Families receiving subsidized child care also may choose a “Relative/Neighbor” Provider to receive subsidy.  This person must have FBI clearances through finger printing http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/PartnersProviders/ChildWelfare/003671038.htm and https://www.pa.cogentid.com/index_dpw.htm, and provide proof of address, a working telephone, and Social Security number, and be willing to have both PA State Police Criminal History and Child Abuse clearance completed. kids10.jpg


Choosing a child care provider . . .

Before making any decision about enrolling your child with a child care provider, it is very important that you visit providers and ask questions.  The experiences that young children have affect them throughout their lives.  A checklist can be a very helpful way to gather information and keep track of what you learn about each provider:
www.dpw.state.pa.us/ServicesPrograms/ChildCareEarlyEd/003674752.htm


After choosing a child care provider . . .

Even after selecting a child care program, it is very important to monitor the quality of care your child is receiving.  A program may change over a period of time because of many different factors.  Talk to your child's caregivers frequently, listen to what your child says about the day, and drop in for a visit every now and then.  Even excellent child care programs have bad days, but overall your child's experience should be a good and happy one.  Some warning signs that you should be concerned about:

  • parents of enrolled children are not allowed to drop in unannounced at any time during the day or are asked to call before coming for a visit
  • parents must drop the child off in the office and are not allowed to come into the caregiving areas
  • your child talks about being afraid of a particular caregiver
  • the caregivers seem indifferent to the children
  • a caregiver's voice or manner seems harsh, rude, or cruel toward any of the children
  • there are insufficient or inappropriate toys for the children, or the toys are for display only and not available to the children
  • your child has injuries that the caregiver cannot explain
  • when you express a concern, the caregiver will not discuss the matter with you

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Any time you feel uneasy or unsure about the care your child is receiving, plan a time to visit the program, spend some time observing the activities, and make an appointment to discuss your concerns with the director or your child's caregiver.  If you are not reassured, it is time to think about finding a new program.

If you have concerns about the care your child receives or complaints about the provider, contact the Office of Child Development and Early Learning’s Regional Office at 1-800-222-2108.

Referrals to and information about child care providers do not imply recommendation, endorsement or any indication of the quality of care by Child Care Information Services, Inc.