How to Find and Choose a Quality In-Home Daycare Provider

In-home daycare provides the kind of high-quality child care and safety requirements you would expect from a commercial daycare center, but in a home setting. These environments often have smaller child-to-provider ratios, enabling your child to get even more individualized attention and care.

Find trusted in-home daycare

About Family Child Care

In-home daycare, or family child care, usually involves mixed-age groups of children, which is great for kids’ development of social skills. Since toddlers and babies aren’t divided into different grades or classes, family child care is also convenient if you’re seeking care for siblings. Your children can stay together, and you’re less likely to worry about competition for multiple spots in a program. Plus, in-home daycare is  less costly and has more flexible hours than a traditional daycare center.


Exploring Family Child Care Programs

When looking for any type of child care, you want a provider with whom you’ll have a good parent-teacher relationship. Your care provider should prioritize this too. In fact, high-quality family child care programs will be happy to collaborate with you to support your child’s development. Additionally, in-home programs adhere to core early childhood education  principles and should be happy to detail them for you.

As you’re looking at programs, ask as many questions as you need to get a sense of the provider’s child care philosophy. Getting an idea of what the daily routine looks like can help you make an informed decision. Sometimes, this is just a matter of listening to your intuition. Wonderschool parent Amber L’Estrange, for example, started her family child care experience from just a good gut feeling. Read her story below.

My Experience Finding Child Care for the First Time

Amber L’Estrange | Wonderschool parent

“I liked the concept of family child care programs and I’m also really committed to a mindful approach to education, organic food, and a focus on progressive learning approaches,” L’Estrange told Wonderschool. “I had [my child] on the waitlist for some schools, but there was something intuitively I felt was missing. I kept an open mind, and one day when I was at Highland Park, Joey from Little Nest Learning Space approached me. He let me know that they were opening up preschool and that I should come to the open house.”

L'Estrange’s first visit immediately confirmed the new program was the right choice.

“When I went, I INSTANTLY felt the heart,” she says. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh that was what was missing: that real care, heart, and warmth.’” Read her full story.


What You Need to Know About Care Licensing

There are different types of licenses for different types of care programs, so family child care licenses have their own licensing requirements. For instance, in-home program licenses often limit the number of children enrolled to between 10 and 15. Parents should always review the licensing for any programs in which they’re considering enrolling their children.

Licensing Requirements

Licensing requirements for family child care home programs vary by state, but some form of a child care license is nearly always required. States that make exceptions for in-home programs only do so in exceedingly rare circumstances. This can happen, for instance, if the provider is related to all the children in their care and only supervises them occasionally, or if a provider is caring for children under a defined number of unrelated children (this number again varies by state).

Licensing Regulations

Licensing regulations are in place to ensure programs meet important health and safety standards. Most state licenses set expectations around facility cleanliness and safety, emergency protocols, maximum child-to-provider ratios, and minimum provider training requirements. The license application process often includes a background check and proof that a minimum number of staff members have first aid training. Some locations will require programs to obtain licenses at both the state and county levels.

family child care providers

How to Find a Licensed Family Child Care Provider

Resources such as are great for finding licensed providers in your area. In-home daycare facilities also shouldn’t hesitate to make their licensing information readily available to you. Some certifications, such as accreditation by the National Association of Family Child Care, offer additional proof that a program has been thoroughly vetted.

When you search for family child care providers through Wonderschool, you’ll see the program’s license number. Wonderschool rigorously verifies licensing for all listed programs and visits facilities on a regular basis to ensure they remain compliant. Choosing Wonderschool to find a family child care provider is among the most streamlined ways to ensure credibility and assess provider qualifications.

When considering any potential family child care programs, ask as many license-related questions as you feel necessary. It’s a good sign when programs go above and beyond the minimum requirements. For instance, some states only require one staff member to have first aid training. If you ask how many providers know CPR and the answer exceeds the minimum requirement, you’ll know your child is in good hands.

choosing the right program

What to Consider When Choosing an In-Home Child Care Option

Beyond the environment, in-home and child care center programs offer a variety of curriculum for learning and development.

Curriculum options

Curriculum may be based on philosophies such as Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emilia which offer different methods to prioritize individual discovery. Other programs may offer a faith-based approach. There are also bilingual programs that combine these options while learning multiple languages. Similarly, these programs can include a variety of cultural explorations. Having a variety of options gives you the chance to find an environment that’s harmonious with your style.

Learning benefits

You may be interested in a specific program for a number of reasons. You may want a program that focuses on, for example, sensory and tactile exploration. This helps your child develop their fine motor skills and gives them the chance to expand their observational abilities. Others are more centered on discovering their own personal creativity and talents.

Personalized plans

Child care providers may also work with you on a customized care plan and schedule. Programs that utilize early intervention strategies can also provide you support if your children experience any developmental delays. No matter your goals, Wonderschool is here to help you find a child care program that fits.

health and safety

Health and Safety Regulations in Family Child Care Settings

If you’re talking to potential in-home providers, here are some questions you can ask to confirm that they follow best practices around health and safety.

  • What is the child-to-provider ratio? 

    The smaller the ratio, the better. One provider for every five children is the common standard for kids between 2 and 3 years old.
  • Can I see your official safety policies?
    A high-quality program will have detailed policies, in writing, that cover all safety protocols.
  • How often do you and staff attend safety training?
    Safety education isn’t a one-time affair. In addition to regular certification renewals, frequent training shows that a provider goes above and beyond when it comes to safety.
  • What is the program’s nutrition and rest schedule?
    Licenses often include regulations around meals and snacks, but it’s always good to double-check. It’s also smart to ask about nap times so you can ensure your child stays on a healthy sleep routine.
  • What are the sanitation protocols? 

    Ask if the provider frequently disinfects high-touch surfaces to prevent the spread of germs.
  • What happens if a child gets sick? 

    There should be rules around when sick kids are required to stay home and what happens if a child becomes ill at daycare.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if a family child care facility is high-quality?
How do I know if a provider has the right child care approach?
What are the most important things to look for in a family child care program?

In-Home Daycare Could Be the Right Choice for Your Family

Family child care offers a nurturing environment for children to grow and often provides more individualized care than traditional daycare centers. Programs that operate out of a provider’s home must meet minimum health and safety standards, and licensing requirements ensure that providers adhere to these guidelines.

Start your child’s early education right by finding a quality family child care option that meets all the essential criteria. Wonderschool can help you find a family child care program that meets your and your child’s unique needs. Explore your local licensed providers now.

Find trusted in-home daycare