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Quality Child Care Tips and Checklists

What to look for in your search for quality child care.

Play & Learn

Quality child care offers many opportunities for all children to play each day. Counting, reading skills and problem-solving are just a few things learned through play. Look for a provider who focuses on all aspects of your child’s development including language, social, emotional, physical and cognitive.


There are different caregiver qualifications for different child care settings. Training, education, experience and credentials prepare a child care provider to meet your child’s development needs. Request a provider’s qualifications and references to learn more about their child care experience.

Positive Interactions

A quality child care provider guides children by helping them to get along with others in caring positive ways, and encourages you to be involved as well. Look for a provider who is enthusiastic, attentive and encouraging.

Program Quality

Child Care Programs can participate in ExceleRate Illinois, a statewide quality rating and improvement system, or national accreditation. Programs that have an ExceleRate Circle of Quality or accreditation have met voluntary standards for quality child care that are higher than the state licensing requirements. Ask the provider if their program has an ExceleRate Circle of Quality or is accredited.


A quality child care environment is safe, clean and provides children with many learning opportunities. Look for a setting where the children are supervised at all times, nutritious meals and snacks are served and where toys and learning activities are based on the age of the child.

Financial Assistance

The Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Assistance Program provides financial help for families who meet requirements.

Learn More About Financial Assistance

For more information, please call 312-823-1100, press 3 or email

If you for a Parent Consultant to contact you to assist with your child care search, please complete the Child Care Referral Request Form.

What Are Quality Indicators

Use these checklists when visiting child care programs: