department events

Choosing a provider and the next steps

Family Child Care          Finding Child Care
Choosing a Provider     Becoming a Provider
Provider Licensing        Rules and Regulations
Provider Training          Forms and Guides
Education and Activities
Contact Licensing
Licensing Information Lookup

Follow these steps when making a decision on where to send your child for care: 

Screen preliminary caregivers:  If choosing licensed child care, you should contact Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services at 320-231-7800 for public records of the provider.  The county’s records included any complaints and what was found during investigation, correction orders, and any type of negative action on the license or disqualification on anyone living or working in the household.  Check if there were injuries leading to medical attention. For child care centers, see the Minnesota Department of Human Services'Licensing Information Lookup

Setting up an interview:  After selecting a few providers that meet your criteria, your next step is to set up interviews. When first calling a provider, you will need to tell the person the age of your child, the type of schedule you have and the date you need to start.  You will want to ask about the following:

  • References.
  • The number of years of experience.  For centers, ask how long they have been in business and how long the teaching staff has been with the program.
  • The ages and number of children they are currently caring for and how many children they intend to care for. For centers, you will want to know the staff to child ratio and what the maximum number of children will be in each group.
  • The training they have completed.
  • Fees and hours of operations.
  • The type of programs they offer.
  • Personal concerns such as pets, smoking, special needs or dietary requirements.

If you are satisfied with the phone interview, schedule a face-to-face interview, so you can discuss the program and any concerns you have regarding your child’s care.  Read a list of possible interview questions.

Visit a provider at work:  After interviewing, you may schedule a visit where you can view the caregiver and children interacting. You should schedule a visit during the times the child care is normally operating. You will want to pay attention to the following:

  • Interaction between caregiver and children
  • Resolution of conflicts
  • Organization during activities and meals
  • Safety procedures
  • Cleanliness of the facility

Get your child acclimated:  Once your choice for provider has been made, you should schedule a time for your child to be at the setting for a short period of time to see how they will handle this new experience. You should plan to spend some time during these trial periods, so you can further observe how the caregiver will handle things. If during this time, you observe anything that makes you feel uneasy, you should talk to the provider to see if any changes can be made. If you feel uneasy, you may want to reconsider your arrangement.

Revisiting Your Decision

Stay up to speed:  As soon as you determine who you want to care for your child, you can start taking steps to keep up to speed on your specific day care and day care guidelines in general. Take these tips into consideration from the get-go:

  • Establish a respectful and professional relationship with your day care provider from Day 1. This will help you feel comfortable asking them important questions down the road without running the risk of offending them and damaging the rapport you’ve developed.
  • Determine who your day care provider’s licensor is by calling Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services at 320-231-7800. Having the licensor’s phone number on hand will make it easy for you to periodically call and check on any new licensing actions or violations.
  • Stay familiar with child care rules and regulations. For example, know how many children should be in a provider’s care at any one time. It can also be beneficial for you to know what the supervision rule requires of day care providers.
  • Exchange phone numbers or email addresses with parents of other children attending the day care. They can be a good source of information about how the day care is run and what the provider is like with different ages of children.
  • Develop a back-up plan for day care in case of unforeseen circumstances. For example, illnesses often catch people off guard. Handling those situations will be much less stressful if you already have a plan in place for who will watch your child when they are sick and can’t attend day care.

Follow up in a few months:  Now that your child has been under someone else’s supervision for several months, take an opportunity to re-evaluate the provider. Start by talking to the provider and asking any important questions you may have. You may want to see if they are current on their required training or have plans on completing any training in the near future. You can also call the provider every once in a while to see how your child’s day is going.

While such straightforward questions can be helpful, some of your re-evaluation of the day care can be done through simple observations.

  • Randomly drop into the day care in the middle of the day. This will give you a glimpse of the home’s atmosphere and allow you to see how children are cared for when parents aren’t expected to be around.
  • If your child is old enough, check in with them to determine what their day care experience is like. If they’re too young to communicate, pay attention to how they play and notice what they are modeling.
  • Each time you drop off and pick up your child, observe both the infant sleeping area and the general day care space. Do the cribs look safe and current? Are outlets covered? Are heavy, unstable pieces of furniture such as TVs and bookshelves anchored to the floor or wall?
  • Try to take note as to whether the day care provider seems to be sitting at their computer each time you come to pick up your child. If they’re spending extended periods of time using the telephone or computer, or watching television during day care hours, they may be less attentive to your child.