Selecting Child Care

What types of child care providers are available to me?

  • Child Care Center: A child care facility in which seven or more children who are not related to the operator receive child care. A child care center must have a certificate of compliance (“license”) from the Department of Human Services (DHS) in order to legally operate.
  • Group Child Care Home: A child care facility in which seven through 12 children of various ages or in which seven through 15 children from 4th grade through 15 years of age who are not related to the operator receive child care. A group child care home must have a certificate of compliance (“license”) from DHS in order to legally operate.
  • Family Child Care Home: A child care facility located in a home in which four, five, or six children who are not related to the caregiver receive child care. A family child care home must have a certificate of compliance (“license”) from DHS in order to legally operate.
  • Relative Child Care Provider:-Child care provided by a relative who is a grandparent, aunt, uncle or sibling( over the age of 18) of the children  who does not live in your home. There are other requirements including passing child abuse, criminal history and FBI clearances

What should I look for when visiting a child care facility?

A quality early learning program – in child care, Head Start, or preschool – will help prepare your child for success in school and in life.

Here are things to look for when choosing your child’s early learning program:

  • Is this person or program a safe place for children? Does it meet the necessary regulations? Have there been any complaints against this program? Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DHS) regulates child care programs (family child care homes, group child care homes and child care centers) to make sure they meet minimum health and safety standards. Programs are required to post their certificate of compliance, so if you don’t see it, ask about it.
  • Does the child care or Head Start program participate in Keystone STARS? Programs in Keystone STARS earn a STAR 1 up to a STAR 4 rating by meeting quality standards. Count the Stars – the more STARS, the higher the quality.
  • Do teachers have training in early childhood education? Teachers in quality programs have education in child development, such as a Child Development Associate (CDA), Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.
  • Does the program provide activities appropriate for your child’s age and development? Teachers should observe your child’s skill level and provide activities that will help your child grow.
  • Does the program keep families involved in their child’s progress? Quality programs will talk with you about how your child is learning and suggest ways you can help your child learn at home.
  • Are the children happy and involved? Learning should be fun!

Print out a Child Care Checklist to help evaluate each facility you visit. Count the STARS. The higher the STAR level, the higher the quality.

For more information and to find a Keystone STARS program near you, please feel free to contact your CCIS about any of our services. You may contact us on-line or at our child care hotline at 1-888-461-KIDS. Or you can visit Compass and www.papromiseforchildren.com

What are the licensing and registration rules for child care providers?

The provider’s license should be prominently displayed. If it is not, ask to see it. Click on the link above for more detailed information about what to look for in a regulated provider’s facility and basic licensing and registration requirements.

Beyond licensing, there are several standards to evaluate quality in child care settings.  As a parent only you can determine whether your child is happy. Don’t forget to listen to your child. Watch their interaction with the staff and remember: You are the consumer and the final decision about a child care facility is yours.

Contact your CCIS office for more information.

Keystone Stars

The Keystone STARS is Pennsylvania’s program to improve the quality of early learning. It is a voluntary program that recognizes Department of Human Services (DHS) regulated child care providers who exceed state health and safety certification requirements. Child care programs which participate in Keystone STARS earn a STAR 1 up to a STAR 4 rating by meeting quality standards. Count the STARS – the more STARS, the higher the quality! For more information, go to the Keystone Stars website.

If you have any questions or for more information please feel free to contact a Parent Resource and Referral Counselor about any of our services.  You may contact us on-line or at our child care hotline at 1-888-461-KIDS.

Search for a Child Care Provider Online

If you are seeking online information about state-based early education programs or wish to conduct a provider search online, please visit the State of PA’s COMPASS system here: COMPASS Child Care Search