As a parent or caregiver, one of the most important decisions you will make for your young child is choosing a high-quality child care program—and this process comes with its own set of factors, from location to availability.
Ultimately, high-quality child care programs help prepare young learners for school, promote social-emotional intelligence, and increase their chances of long-term success. As a parent, relying on a high-quality child care program provide peace of mind and confidence that your child is being nurtured and supported while you’re away at work.
Before you start the search, determine what kind of child care program is best for your child. In North Carolina, you have a few different options:
Once you’ve decided what type of child care is right for your child, it’s time to start searching for a provider. One Place provides referrals to local child care centers, family child care homes, and other child care programs in Onslow County as part of our Child Care Resource & Referral service. All of our CCR&R services are provided at no cost to parents/families.
To start your search, One Place offers a few options:
If you have any questions along the way, our CCR&R team is here to help. Give us a call at (910) 938-0336 to speak to a member of our team.
Another way to gather information on local child care facilities is by reviewing the North Carolina Official Child Care Search. This resource allows you to filter by facility, permit, ages served, and special requirements. You can also get recommendations from people in your network. We recommend that you ask trusted friends and family, colleagues, or neighbors about their experiences with child care.
Licensing Status and Health Reports
By visiting the North Carolina Official Child Care Search, you can view the licensing status of each child care center and verify that their license is up to date. You can also access inspection reports about a child care program’s compliance with health and safety through this search.
Child care programs in North Carolina—whether in a business or a home—are required to be licensed if:
Why Are Licensed Child Care Programs Important?
When child care programs are regulated by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), the health, safety, and well-being of children is protected. In order to obtain—and maintain—licensing, child care centers must meet a set of basic requirements that address the following:
In North Carolina, child care programs are visited at least yearly by the DCDEE for program monitoring. All regulated and licensed programs must maintain a minimum of a 75% compliance rate. Choosing a licensed child care program is an important step to ensuring that your child is as safe, protected, and supported as possible.
North Carolina has a star-rated license system that awards child care programs one to five stars, based on state-defined standards. It’s important to note, however, that any starred program meets the minimum licensing requirements—and the star rating is not necessarily a reflection of better quality.
If you are looking at a religious-sponsored child care program and notice it doesn’t have a rating, be aware that these programs only receive a rating if they choose to apply. The absence of a star rating does not indicate the program’s overall level of quality.
Before making a decision about a program based on the star rating, we recommend visiting the program in person and coming to your own decision.
Finding the right child care program can sometimes be a stressful, overwhelming experience. There is a lot of information to consider and gather. To guide you through the process, here are some simple steps that can help you make the best choice for your child.
Visit child care programs.
Once you have a list of child care programs that could be a good fit for your child, it’s time to visit the programs in person. Because North Carolina has an open-door policy, child care programs are required to allow visitors during hours of operation.
When you visit, try to talk with the director and the teachers. Consult these checklists from Child Care Aware for relevant, helpful questions to ask during your visit:
After each visit, jot down a few notes on what you liked versus what you didn’t like about the child care program. Once you’ve visited all the programs on your list, then it’s time to make a decision.
Once you’ve decided on the right child care program for your family and your child begins attending each day, it’s still important to stay involved and informed. Proactively talk with your child to gain a clearer understanding of what their days are like.
Finding high-quality child care can be stressful and overwhelming. We’ve compiled a few additional resources to aid you in your search:
Do you have additional questions or need assistance? We’re here to help. Click here for more information about One Place’s child care and referral services.