Finding Quality Child Care
Find a Child Care Facility in your Community
A quick way to locate child care programs in your area is with the following lookup tool. Click on the link and then follow the outlined steps. You will be asked to specify the type of facility (Child Care Program, Family Day Home, Preschool, School-age etc.) you are looking for, and the link will take you to a page that will search for programs in your area.
Finding Quality Child Care
Choosing the best child care arrangement for your child takes time, but is well worth the effort. Here are three basic steps to help you make the right choice for your child:
1. List Your Needs
It is important to ensure that your child's unique needs will be met in the facility you choose. For example, if your child needs a lot of quiet time, a large, busy centre may not be the best choice. Some points to consider are:
- Your child's age
- The types of activities your child enjoys
- The number and ages of children your child enjoys being with
- Any food allergies or food preferences that must be accommodated
Some other questions to consider are:
- What are your philosophies about child care and discipline?
- If you have more than one child, would you prefer them to be in the same facility?
- Do you need care during shift work, overtime or during holidays?
- Are you willing or able to provide snacks or meals?
- Does the facility need to be near home, work or transportation?
- How much can you afford to pay, as well as how and when?
2. Locate a Child Care Facility
Find out about child care facilities in your community:
- Talk to friends and neighbours about their recommendations for child care
- Look in the phone book or newspaper under Day Care Centres, Nurseries or Child Care
3. Visit a Child Care Facility - A Checklist for Parents
To help you choose a child care facility, the Alberta Government requires child care operators to provide parents with a checklist. Operators may also provide a copy of either "Choosing a Day Care Centre: a Guide for Parents" or "Choosing a Family Day Home: a Guide for Parents". Before enrolling your child, please review the booklet and the centre's recent inspection reports, then complete and sign the parent checklist.
When visiting a day care, check:
Facility and Equipment
- Is space arranged for children to freely choose activities?
- Are toys and equipment in reach of all children?
- Do toys and equipment suit the ages and sizes of all children?
- Are there enough toys for the number of children?
Program of Daily Activities
- Can children choose from a variety of activities?
- Do activities suit the ages of the children?
- Do children appear relaxed and involved in activities?
- Is there a provision for outdoor play?
- Is the weekly menu posted and followed; are changes noted?
- Does food for all children meet Canada's Food Guide?
- Do staff sit with children during meals?
Health and Safety
- Do staff and children wash their hands before and after diapering or toiletting?
- Are medications stored in a locked container, out of reach of children?
- Are there written instructions for emergency evacuations and fire drills?
- Is all indoor and outdoor equipment clean and safe?
Day Care Centre Staff
- Are staff/child ratios in place?
- Are staff trained at required levels?
- Are staff engaged and involved with children?
- Do staff calmly reassure children who are upset?