Expert Tips for Choosing Quality Child Care

Discover essential tips and checklists for finding quality child care that nurtures your child’s growth and development.

From play-based learning to program accreditation, we’ll guide you through what to look for when selecting the right child care provider for your family.

Illustration of a playground slide with purple accents

Play & Learn

Quality child care isn’t just about supervision—it’s about fostering a stimulating environment where children can thrive. Look for providers who prioritize play-based learning, offering opportunities for children to explore, discover, and develop essential skills such as counting, reading, and problem-solving.

Illustration of three arms in a row extended upward with two purple hearts above the left and right hands.


Ensure your child is in capable hands by checking for caregiver qualifications. From training and education to experience and credentials, a qualified child care provider is equipped to meet your child’s developmental needs. Don’t hesitate to request qualifications and references to gain insight into their expertise and track record.

Illustration of a circle with a heart in the middle and four person icons on each corner with purple accents.

Positive Interactions

A nurturing environment is characterized by positive interactions between caregivers and children. Seek out providers who actively engage with children, fostering a supportive atmosphere where every child feels valued and encouraged. Look for enthusiasm, attentiveness, and a willingness to involve parents in the caregiving process.

Illustration of two hands with palms facing inward, with a three person icon hovering between them with purple accents

Program Quality

Opt for child care programs that prioritize quality and excellence. Programs participating in ExceleRate Illinois or holding national accreditation have voluntarily met rigorous standards, exceeding state licensing requirements. Inquire about a provider’s ExceleRate Circle of Quality or accreditation status to ensure your child receives the best care possible.

Illustration of a house with three people inside with purple accents.


Safety, cleanliness, and learning opportunities are hallmarks of a quality child care environment. Choose settings where children are always supervised, nutritious meals and snacks are provided, and age-appropriate toys and activities abound. A well-rounded environment sets the stage for your child’s healthy growth and development.

Happy loving young Black mother embraces infant at home

Use our expert tips and checklists to navigate the search process with confidence.


First Steps

Infant Toddler Checklist

Older Toddler Checklist

Pre-School Checklist

School-Age Checklist