Child Care Resources for Parents
Choosing Child Care
Choosing child care can be a challenge. Check out this short video for a few tips and considerations.
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Tips for Choosing Child Care
Prepare to make visits to child care programs with confidence and knowledge about indicators of quality child care which can include:
- Promoting positive relationships among all children and adults;
- A curriculum that promotes learning and development in each of the following areas: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive;
- Consistently receiving information about your child’s development and learning on a regular basis;
- Children’s health, nutrition, and safety are supported;
- Teachers are knowledgeable about child development and early childhood education;
- Family engagement and participation is encouraged; and
- The environment has a variety of developmentally appropriate materials and equipment.
Understanding these indicators will help you make an informed choice for your child and family. Use the DHS Find Child Care Tools, located on this website, for details on state-licensed child care agencies.
The parent-provider relationship is critical to a child’s development. Visit each agency a few times, and speak with a variety of staff to see if the child care environment would be a good fit for your child as they grow. If your child is older, for example a toddler or preschooler, bring them along to gauge their reaction to the child care environment as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask about things like meals, nap time, teacher-child ratios, how positive guidance techniques are used and does the agency use a curriculum. Review the child care agency’s report card, and license which is prominently placed where parents can see them within all state-licensed child care agencies.
Once a child is enrolled in an agency, make frequent visits. Parents should be encouraged to visit, even if it is an unannounced visit. Maintaining an open partnership with a child care provider will ensure the child is receiving care that meets the family’s expectations, as well as the child’s developmental needs.
Additional Parent Resources:
A core purpose of Child Care Assistance is to promote parental choice and to empower parents to make their own decisions regarding child care services. Parents have the option to choose from a full range of eligible child care settings which includes a variety of center and home-based choices. The following information is designed to give you the tools to choose the care setting that best suits your family's needs. Click here for a one-page fact sheet with helpful information on choosing your child care agency. Click here for our Resources and Services Quick Reference Guide.
DHS licenses 4 types of child care facilities: Child Care Centers, Family Child Care Homes, Group Child Care Homes and Drop-In Centers. To learn more about each, visit our Types of Regulated Child Care page by clicking here.
DHS has 2 web-based tools to help find licensed child care agencies in the state, which can be found on the Find Child Care page. These listings include the agency's location, hours of operation, compliance history, and other useful information to assist in your search for child care.
Learn more about quality child care by visiting our Star Quality Program website.
Child Care Resource and Referral Centers are free child care location and counseling services serving communities across the state. Parents can receive information regarding the components of "quality" care and what to look for when choosing quality care.
Click here for the Parent's guide to choosing quality care
Click here for the Parent's handy workbook for choosing quality care
Babies should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. Click here to learn more about safe sleep practices.
Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)
Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) is a program of checkups and health care services for children, teens and young adults up to age 21. EPSDT checkups are provided by all county health departments in the state. These services make sure that babies, children, teens and young adults receive the health care they need and include a physical exam, lab tests (if needed), immunizations or shots, and vision and hearing screening. Children, teens and young adults up to age 21 enrolled in TennCare and children, teens and young adults up to age 21 who are uninsured are eligible for these screenings.
More information on scheduling screenings and screening locations are available at:
Report Licensing Violations or Illegal Operations
To report suspected licensing violations or possible illegal child care operations, call the Child Care Complaint Hotline at 1-800-462-8261. You can also e-mail your information to ChildCareHotline.DHS@tn.gov.