How do I find child care?
You can start by asking family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who they have used. Check with your local Smart Start agency for a list of local child care facilities. Search for child care on the Division of Child Development and Early Education’s website. Utilize the list of child care providers on the Child Care section of Carefinderz.

What is the average weekly cost of child care?
It depends on the type of care you choose. Typically family child care homes charge less than a child care center because they don’t have the overhead that a center does. Plan on spending at least $180 per week, per child in a center. Infant care can be $200 per week and up. That is an average of costs in this area.

What types of care are available?
There are many options available and include: relative care, unlicensed care, nanny care, family child care home (fcch), child care centers, afterschool care, and summer camps. If you have a relative who is willing to care for your child that is great. Unlicensed care is someone who keeps 2 or less unrelated children in their home. In NC if they have more than 2 unrelated children then they must be licensed. If you are not sure, ask when you interview a provider.

What is a licensed child care center?
A child care center is a public, private, or government owned facility that usually cares for a larger number of children. Child Care centers have multiple classrooms and provide care for children divided into classrooms by age. They can be privately owned, Head Starts, NC PreK’s, church-based, or facilities on military bases. It is a program where three or more children less than 13 years old receive care on a regular basis of at least once a week for more than four hours from persons not related to the children in care.

What is a licensed Family Child Care Home (FCCH)?
A Family Child Care Home (FCCH) is a child care arrangement located in a residence where, at any one time, more than two children, but less than nine children, receive child care. A family child care home is licensed by the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).

What is the difference between a Family Child Care Home and a child care center?
A family child care home is owned and run by the child care provider who lives in the house. Often it is just one provider, although some employ extra staff.. There is a much smaller group size, usually of varying ages (up to 5 children under the age of 5 years). A child care center is a larger facility that has multiple classrooms, divided by age group. They can have a much larger number of children and have additional staff.

What is a licensed Center in a Residence?
A Center in Residence (CIR) is a child care center located in a residence and licensed for 3 - 12 children unless space limits the number. A Center in Residence must comply with most of the Child Care Center requirements.

Are After-school programs licensed and monitored?
Afterschool programs are not required to be licensed if they are independently operating. This also means they are not monitored and have no restrictions on the humber of children they enroll. If a licensed child care center provides afterschool care then they are monitored and must follow state staff-child ratios. Some elementary schools offer afterschool care and typically are not licensed or monitored by the state, but check with your child’s school to be sure.

What agency is responsible for licensing and monitoring child care facilities?
In North Carolina the Division of Child Development and Early Education licenses and monitors child care facilities.

Do most child care facilities charge a registration fee? How often?
It depends on the facility. Most child care centers do charge an initial registration fee and then an annual one as well. Others only charge an initial fee. Some FCCH’s do charge while others do not. Be sure to ask when you are considering a facility.

Why do some child care facilities charge an application fee?
Some facilities charge an application fee to ensure you are really interested in using their facility. It also helps pay for staff time involved in processing applications. Check with the facility to see if they apply your application fee to the first week’s tuition.

Do we have to pay if my child is sick and can’t go to child care?
Yes, most facilities expect payment whether your child is there or not. The tuition you pay guarantees your child a slot and the facilities still have overhead, payroll, and additional expenses that have to be met. Some family child care homes opt to allow a limited number of unpaid sick days, holidays, and vacation days, while others require payment as usual.

What meals do child care facilities usually serve?
Typically the meals served are morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack. Some facilities offer breakfast and others also provide dinner, although that is an exception and not the rule. Ask the facility if they provide the meals or if you have to pack them.

How much notice am I required to give if I want to pull my child out of a facility?
It depends on the facility policy, so it is important to know that in the very beginning. As a courtesy, most facilities require a 2 week notice so that they have time to fill the vacancy.

How do I check the background of a child care facility?
That is easy! Click here, enter the county and type of care desired, then hit Submit. A list of licensed child care facilities will appear. Find the one you are interested in checking and double click on the name. Then pay special attention to the tabs at the top of the page: DCD Visits and Actions Taken. You will find information on monitoring visits and if there have been any violations or actions taken against a facility and what was done to correct them.

What is staff-child ratio?
This means the number of children that are permitted in each classroom and the number of staff required to provide appropriate care. It is important that you know the correct staff-child ratio for your child’s facility. When dropping your child off be sure that there are adequate staff present or notify the director if additional staff is needed. The same rule applies when picking your child up from care. Count heads.

How do I know what the staff-child ratio is for my son’s center?
The staff-child ratio should be clearly displayed in each classroom. If you don’t see it posted, ask the teacher or director to provide that information.

Why should I ask child care centers about staff turnover rates?
This is an important question to ask when considering options for care. You want to find a child care arrangement that offers stable, consistent care.

What is a star-rated license?
In North Carolina child care facilities are rated from 1 to 5 stars based on education of staff, program standards, and compliance with state licensing regulations. Click here to learn more.

Do I have to provide diapers and wipes for my child?
Yes, you must send diapers and wipes as needed for your child.

Can I send diaper cream for my daughter?
Yes, but you will need to complete a form authorizing the use. Additionally, the tube must be labeled with your child’s name and date it was brought in. Diaper cream is required to be kept in locked storage when not being used.

Do I have to provide formula and bottles for my baby?
Yes, you are required to provide bottles already prepared. They should be labeled with your child’s name and the date daily.

Can I breastfeed my baby at the center?
Ask your child care facility if they provide a private space for breast feeding.

How do I know what meals my child will be served each day?
Menus should be posted where parents can easily them. Each component of the meal should be listed.

My child has several allergies. Do most child care facilities make meal adjustments?
Yes, child care facilities will make adjustments in meals served to address any allergies. They are required to post an Allergy List in each classroom to ensure your child’s needs are met.

Where is the license for the facility displayed?
Usually the license is displayed on a wall or shelf in the hallway in the front of the facility. Some facilities keep it in the director’s office. If you can’t easily find it ask to see it.

Are hazardous and/or dangerous materials accessible to children: cleaning supplies, medications, aerosol cans, electrical cords, uncapped outlets, etc?
Hazardous cleaning supplies, medications, and aerosol cans are required to be kept out of the reach of children and in locked storage. Electrical cords should be secured so they are not easily accessible to children and outlets should be uncapped when not in use. If you notice any hazardous materials accessible to children notify the teacher or director immediately.

Does my child have to nap every day?
Child care facilities offer naptime as part of their daily schedule. It gives the children time to calm their bodies and get some much needed rest. If your child is not a napper then quiet activities may be offered. Ask about the policy at your child’s facility.

How often do the children have outside play time?
Children should go outside every day, weather permitting, for active physical play. This includes infants, who can experience the outside world and get some fresh air. Pushing babies in strollers is not considered active physical play, so ask your facility how they handle outside time for infants.

How do I know what activities my child is doing every day?
Each classroom should have a daily schedule posted in the classroom listing specific times for each event. Additionally, each week there should be current lesson plans detailing activities.

Why does my child have to wash his hands upon entering the classroom?
Children and staff are required to wash their hands upon entering the classroom to wash away any germs they may have on their hands. This helps keep your child, the staff, and all of the children in the classroom healthy.

What is a late pick-up fee?
Facilities charge a late pick-up fee if you pick up your child past the posted hours of care. This is to cover additional staff costs, to offset the inconvenience of waiting for parents to arrive, and quite frankly to discourage parents from leaving their children while they run errands or work later than usual. Ask your facility how much they charge as costs can add up quickly.

Do child care facilities offer addtional activites like music, dance, foreign language, etc? Who pays for it?
Some facilities do offer additional optional activities on-site for an extra fee, paid by the parent. If a facility offers field trips the parents usually pay an additional cost as well.

Am I allowed to drop in at any time during the day to see my child?
Yes, you are permitted to drop in at any time to see your child. However, keep in mind that if your child is going through an adjustment period to a new facility it is probably best if you call to check on the child rather than showing up and upsetting the child all over again.

Do child care facilities offer transportation?
If a facility offers afterschool care typically transportation is provided. Some programs such as Head Start and NC PreK offer transporation to and from school.

I receive child care subsidy from Department of Social Services. Will most child care facilities accept it?
Not all facilities accept DSS subsidy, so be sure to ask that question.

If my child is mildly sick can she still attend child care?
Ask your facility for their sick policy. The state has a policy of when children are not permitted to attend with certain symptoms that facilities must honor. Generally, if your child is sick they need to stay home.