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What It Is

Choosing the right caregiver is one of the most important decisions that a family can make. Get as much information as you can to make sure the choice you make is the best one. Talk to friends, family members, and other parents with children in child care and get their opinions.

Please tell us if you need assistance because you do not speak English or have a disability. Free language assistance and/or other aids and services are available upon request. To receive free interpreter services, call toll free (866) 291- 8931.

Si no habla inglés o tiene una discapacidad, usted puede solicitar asistencia lingüística y/u otros servicios gratuitamente. Para recibir servicios de interpretación gratuitos, llame al 1 (866) 291-8931.

What's the difference between regulated child care and nonregulated child care?

Some parents are not aware of the differences between regulated and non-regulated child care. The state Division of Regulated Child Care does not regulate providers who care for three or fewer children not related to them. Providers who care for more than three children not related them must be certified or licensed unless they fall into the exempt category. All exempt child care settings can be found 922 KAR 2:090 Child-care licensure in Section 3.

Regulation by the Division of Regulated Child Care requires every  person working with children to follow the minimum health and safety regulations to ensure the wellbeing of the children they care for. Requirements include background checks and ongoing professional development to enhance the consistent use of developmentally appropriate practice with the children in their programs. The Division of Child Care strives to make sure regulations are in place to keep all Kentucky children safe and cared for in a loving environment. The Division of Regulated Child Care works to enforce provider compliance with Division of Child Care regulations

How do you know if your provider is regulated?

The Public Child Care Search, lists only providers certified or licensed through the Division of Child Care. You can also view inspection reports, hours of operation and Kentucky All STARS level.

What to look for in a child care center

When looking for the best caregiver for your family, visit and compare several facilities/providers. Here's a checklist of key recommendations:

  • Observe the interaction between staff/provider and children.
  • Find out what activities are available for the children.
  • Ask questions and make sure your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
  • Check for a current license or certificate and verify that current deficiencies are posted.
  • Keep in mind:
    • the child's age;
    • the child's personality;
    • the locations of the facility/provider compared to your home and workplace;
    •  facility/provider hours of operation and any fees charged.
  • After your child is enrolled in a facility, drop in unannounced at various times of the day. If you see anything that makes you uneasy, talk to the caregiver or director about your concerns. Continue to make visits to check on things. Watch for recurring bumps or bruises or changes in your child's behavior. Talk to other parents when you pick up your child. Compare notes with them. Trust your instincts and look for another child care facility/provider, if necessary.

Use your five senses:

Sight: Do you see providers engaged with children? Do you see children actively playing with each other and the provider? Do you see any health and safety concerns? Do you see that there are enough materials for the children to play with?

Sound: Do you hear teachers speaking in warm, positive tones to the children? Do you hear providers using respectful language?

Taste: How does the food that is served to the children look in appearance and how does it taste?

Touch: Do you see physical affection between teachers and children, such as hugging, pats on the head, children sitting on provider’s laps or any other types of positive touch?

Smell: Is there a pleasant smell in the child care setting? Can you smell perfume, smoke or any other odor that might be unpleasant for your child?

Types of Curricula

One way for parents to decide on a child care program would be to find out more about the program's approach to teaching, referred to as curriculum. There are some familiar curricula and some based on or inspired by these methods. Make sure the curriculum is based on current child development research, it is interesting to children, the lessons seem useful to do in the child care setting and teachers are supported and trained. Speak with the program director to find out what method of curriculum is used.

Montessori: This developmental approach is child-centered, allowing children to work on and master skills at their own pace. Learning is hands on and focuses on social and practical life skills. Classrooms often are multi-age, allowing children to work together cooperatively for different social skills.

Reggio Emilia: This approach is project-based and child-led based on their interests. Children work together to observe and ask questions about the world around them to develop skills surrounding exploration and discovery. This approach uses children’s five senses to learn while the teacher facilitates.

Waldorf: This approach focuses on a child’s spirit, soul and body. The care setting is meant to feel more home like and encourages hands-on, play-based learning. Teachers encourage an inner drive for learning and focus on bringing out a child’s strengths and skills. It does not include media and also does not look like the traditional academic course seen in other programs.

HighScope: This curriculum uses hands-on experiences in a plan-do-review order. The focus is on learning based on child development research. Teachers support learning by building on already familiar concepts and walk children through their participation in learning.

Creative Curriculum (Teaching Strategies): This is a total curriculum program focused on planned aspects of instruction and routines in active learning while supporting development of the whole child. It is described as innovative, responsive, supportive, comprehensive and developmentally appropriate.

Emergent: This approach is based on planning activities and projects based on the particular children’s interests, skills and needs. Programs also often use project work for small groups or the larger classroom and can be studied over a period of days or even weeks. Many programs also may use developmental assessment tools to assure school readiness.

Religious/Faith-Based: Programs that use faith-based curricula are rooted in developmentally appropriate practices and with a religious aspect to the lessons and activities. They focus on the teachings of the religion or culture in each part of the learning process.


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