Saskatchewan Association of Child Care Homes Inc.
Choosing Child Care
Child Development Milestones
Early Learning Brochures
Choosing Child Care

A Parent's Guide to Choosing Child Care Services

Good-quality child care provides a safe, healthy environment and supports the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of children.  There are many child care options available including informal child care provided by family, friends, neighbours, nanny services or other in-home care.  There are also licensed child care centres, family child care homes and group family child care homes.  The type of child care arrangement you choose will obviously depend upon your needs, the type of child care you prefer, your child's needs and the options available in your community.
Parents sometimes choose unlicensed child care because it may be less expensive, more convenient and perhaps more flexible.  Others choose licensed child care because it is licensed and monitored by the Early Learning and Child Care Branch and must meet certain standards. Sometimes, licensed care is a parent's first choice because they may be eligible to receive a subsidy to help offset child care costs.  At times, more familiar care is chosen for infants and young children, while school-age care might be determined by how close the child care is to school.
Licensed Child Care
Licensed child care, whether provided in a child care centre or a family child care home, is regulated and monitored by the Early Learning and Child Care Branch of the Department of Learning.  Parents using a licensed service may be eligible for a Child Care Subsidy to help with child care fees. taff in Child Care centres are Certified Early Childhood Educators.  In licensed family child care homes, there is an alternate caregiver in place should the primary caregiver be ill or otherwise unavailable and Criminal Record Checks will have been completed on all adults living in the home.
Unlicensed Child Care
The potential advantages of unlicensed care, which is often provided by family members or friends, include a level of comfort with the caregiver, lower cost or no cost, flexibility, similar parenting styles, generally fewer children, and a home environment.  Non-family arrangements may be chosen because of convenience of location, daily or family rates and a home environment.
Making a Choice
Choosing a child care service can be confusing to a parent and they may be unsure of what to look for or what types of questions to ask.  Visit potential child care services and interview the caregiver or the person responsible for the operation of the service.  All types of child care services must meet standards regarding the number of children in their care.  This brochure provides a list of suggested questions that you can use to help you decide whether a particular child care arrangement is right for you and your child.
The Child Care Service
Is the service licensed or unlicensed?
What are the objectives of the child care service; i.e., what does the caregiver(s) hope to accomplish?
If the child care is provided in a private home, how many people live in the home in addition to the caregiver? What are their ages? What is their relationship to the caregiver?
Number of Children
What is the total number of children being cared for? (If some children attend part-time, what is the largest number that would be there at any given time?)
What are the ages of the children?
Do any of the children have special needs?
Activities and Routines
What type of daily activities do children engage in?
Do these activities enhance the emotional, intellectual, physical and social growth of the children?
Does the daily routine include time for play, snacks, lunch, rest time, and clean-up time?
What kind of balance is there between active and quiet play time and between indoor and outdoor activities (weather permitting)?
How much time do children spend watching television or movies and what types of programs or movies are they allowed to watch?
Do children have the opportunity to play both in groups and alone?
What are the procedures for rest time?
Are children allowed to bring a source of comfort such as a favourite blanket or stuffed animal?
Does the caregiver(s) work with parents to toilet train their child?
Parental Participation
How often are you expected to participate in centre or home activities?
Are you able to drop in to visit the child care facility or home at any time or are you required to provide advance notice?
Child Management and Discipline
What child management techniques and methods of discipline are used? (You might use one or two examples of possible situations and ask how the caregiver(s) would handle them.)
(Parents must be assured that their child(ren) will not be subjected to hitting or spanking or to physical, emotional or verbal abuse that might humiliate or embarrass the child or undermine the child's self-respect.  The child must not be denied necessities like food, clothing, or bedding and the child must not be isolated.)
Snacks and Meals
What types of meals are served?
Does the caregiver(s) post a weekly menu?
How often and what types of snacks are provided?
Will the caregiver accommodate special diets?
Are you required to provide food for your children?
Safety and Well-being
Does the child care facility or home appear to be clean?
What precautions have been taken to ensure your child's safety?
What procedures are in place to deal with an accident, fire or other emergency?
Is there adequate space for the number of children attending?
What happens if your child becomes ill?
What arrangements are made for vacation, both yours and the caregivers, as well as for statutory and school holidays?
Is there an extra charge for school-age children when there is no school?
Administration and Fees
What are the hours of operation?
How much are the fees?
When are fees due?
Are receipts issued for payment of fees?
Is there an extra charge for bringing a child early or arriving later than usual to pick the child up?
Is there a subsidy available to assist qualified parents with payment of fees?
Establishing a Child Care Agreement
No matter what type of child care arrangement you choose and whether it is licensed or unlicensed, it is important to have an agreement, preferably in writing, between you and your caregiver. Please refer to the brochure entitled, "Building Effective Child Care Partnerships" for more information about the importance of an agreement and what an agreement might include.


For more information about child care in Saskatchewan, please contact the Early Learning and Child Care Branch office nearest you:
Regina - 306-787-4980
Saskatoon -
Prince Albert -
Moose Jaw -
Weyburn -
Meadow Lake -
Swift Current -
Melfort -

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