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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 nonexempt category.

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?


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