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Tips for selecting a day care

Day care experts suggest parents looking to place their kids in a day care facility do their homework. Here is a checklist as to what you can do: Get a list of referrals from Child Care Resource and Referral, a non-profit organization aimed at he...

Day care experts suggest parents looking to place their kids in a day care facility do their homework. Here is a checklist as to what you can do:

  • Get a list of referrals from Child Care Resource and Referral, a non-profit organization aimed at helping parents find day care. You can call them at (800) 941-7003 or find providers that match your basic requirements on their Web sites at www.ndchildcare.org or www.mnchildcare.org . Ask for a checklist to guide you in sizing up the places you visit.

  • Contact places on your list to verify availability and set up visits.
  • In Cass County, call Social Services at (701) 241-5765 and find out:
    • How long the provider has been in business
    • How many children the day care is licensed for
    • What correction orders the day care has had over the years.
    • In Clay County, parents can access that information at http://licensinglookup.dhs.state.mn.us .
  • In North Dakota, where background checks for child care providers are not mandatory, visit the state's voluntary background check registry at www.nd.gov/dhs/services/childcare/carecheck . Parents can also plug in providers' names in the state's court records site at www.ndcourts.gov/publicsearch/contactsearch.aspx . Watch for a history of small claims, collection and eviction cases against providers.
  • Ask around. "People talk about the good places, and they talk about the bad places," said Dede Wienckowski, Cass County child care licensing specialist.
  • Think about your child care priorities and compile a list of questions for providers.
  • Visit the center or in-home day care and interview the owner or center director. Ask to see the daily schedule. Observe the staff's interaction with the children. Don't be shy about asking questions about the day care's financial stability. Says Linda Lembke of Child Care Resource and Referral, "The clue to me is how open the program is to being about these kinds of questions."
  • Return for a second visit with your child.
  • Request several parent references and contact them.
  • Make up your mind.
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