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Child Care Aware Is A 'Godsend' For Parents

Darci Hedden of Selah tried unsuccessfully for two months to find quality child care for her twin babies, Max and Ava. Some child care centers were full. Others had space for only one of her twins...

Types of Care 

What type of child care is right for you? 

As a parent you want the very best for your child. That's why choosing child care may well be the single most important decision you'll ever make so it's important to become an informed consumer of child care. Finding the right caregiver for your child means thinking about the needs of both your child and the family when deciding if a particular setting meets those needs.

Read: DEL's You Have a Choice!  English or Spanish

Five Steps to Finding Quality Child Care

1- Start early and think about your family’s needs and values

Give yourself as much time as possible to find the best situation for your child. Think about your needs. Do you want child care close to work or home? Do you need full-time or part-time care? Does your child have special care needs? What is most important to you about a child care setting?

2- Connect with Child Care Aware – or 1-800-446-1114

The experts in the Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center can help you understand different types of child care and what to consider when trying to find a program suitable for your family. We can provide referrals to specific programs, information about financial assistance and ways for you to identify quality child care.

3- Call, visit and ask questions

Begin calling potential providers. Ask about openings, hours, the enrollment process and fees, weekly/monthly costs, and whether subsidies are accepted. Find out what the program is doing to maintain and increase quality and how they meet quality indicators. If a child care seems like it could work for you, make an appointment to visit. Spend time talking to the provider, observe activities and interactions and imagine your child in the environment. Use this CHECKLIST to help measure the program's qualitity and decide whether it will work for your family.

4- Make a choice

Choose the program that best meets your family’s needs. It may be necessary to have alternates if your first choice falls through.

5- Stay involved

The key to ensuring quality child care is to stay involved. Have parent-caregiver meetings regularly. Get to know other families. Be there for your child’s birthday and, when you can, take part in field trips and other special events. Keep as close to agreed-upon drop-off and pick-up times as possible. Ask your child what he or she does during the day. Spend a few minutes each day talking to the caregiver about your child. Show your appreciation and ask questions.


Working with us at Child Care Aware of Washington

The Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center is available five days a week at 1-800-446-1114 and online at They offer free information and referrals for families seeking child care. Your conversations with us will be kept confidential. We provide referrals only, not recommendations. The information we offer is self-reported by the child care programs. It is up to you to decide whether a program is a good fit. You may need to visit several providers to determine which is best for your family. If you have a complaint or other feedback on our services please call the Child Care Resources Family Services Director or Coordinator at 1-800-446-1114.


Paying for Child Care Costs

Child care rates vary by region. Information about average rates in your area is available by calling the Family Center at 1-800-446-1114. Some providers offer a multi-child discount or sliding scale based on income. When you interview providers, have a discussion about what you can or cannot afford and request written information about costs. Licensed providers are required to have a Parent Handbook with information on fees, deposits, hours, vacations, meals, etc.

Financial assistance

Many families use Working Connections Child Care Subsidies to help pay for child care. To find out if you qualify you can call 1-877-501-2233 or go to There are also military programs, tribal child care funds, federal child care tax credits, and other forms of assistance that may help you pay for care.


Some of your Child Care Options

 Child Care Center and Family Child Care:
All child care centers and family child care must be licensed by the state and meet the minimum licensing requirements to promote a higher standard of quality. Child care centers serve larger groups of children who are separated by age groups and led in highly structured activities. Family child care involves a mixed-age group of infants toddlers and preschoolers in a home setting. This is generally a more personal atmosphere than a child care center, with a greater ratio of adults to children

Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP):
Public preschools offer comprehensive preschool for income eligible children. Many of these programs operate only part-day, part-year and do not offer wrap around child care. Some public schools offer Pre-Kindergarten programs at no cost.

Private Preschool:
Private preschool programs that offer only 4 hours or less per day of educational curriculum are exempt from state licensing. This would include specialized preschool models such are Montessori and Waldorf. Parent Cooperative Preschool Programs.

Parent Cooperative Preschool Programs are not required to be licensed in the state of Washington. These part day, part week programs for children ages 3 to 5 are provided through local community colleges. They require that parents volunteer time and participate in parent education.

Nanny Care:
Washington State does not require nannies to be licensed, so there are no minimum training requirements. Child Care Aware does not provide information about available nannies or babysitters. There are companies that provide nanny search services for a fee.


Follow us on: 


Call 1-800-446-1114

or go online to

Child Care Subsidy 

 1.877.501.2233 or

apply online


What is Early Achievers?