Child Care Provider Search
Finding a quality child care provider can be overwhelming, but it’s one of the most important decisions we can make for our children. The Helpline Center is here to connect parents with customized child care referrals. We maintain a database of hundreds of providers in the Sioux Falls area that is constantly updated to help you find child care options that are right for your family.
Our resource materials provide information on quality child care indicators, what types of questions to ask when interviewing daycare providers, licensing and regulation standards for child care providers, and how to prepare your child for care. We can also provide a resource guide on available preschools and school age programs.
If you are searching for child care, call the Helpline Center by dialing 2-1-1, texting your ZIP CODE to 898211 or visit our database and resource materials at helplinecenter.org.
South Dakota Car Seat Distribution Program
The Child Safety Seat Distribution Program focuses on keeping children safe by providing child safety seats at no cost to families that meet income eligibility requirements to ensure that they are in the best child seat for their height and weight until they are at least 4’9″. At 4’9″, most children can safely wear a seat belt.
More Information – https://dss.sd.gov/childcare/childsafetyseat/
Choosing Child Care
Deciding who will watch your child while you are away can be a challenging decision.
Sometimes, one has more questions than answers regarding your choice for your child’s child care experience. Educating yourself on the right questions to ask and what things to look for is the first step in finding the right child care for your child and your family.
Ask yourself questions to find answers
WHAT IS THE BEST FIT FOR YOUR CHILD?
- Does your child need a calm atmosphere or a more active atmosphere?
- How does your child handle being in groups with other children?
- How does your child react when you are not around?
- Does your child need a lot of individual attention to be comfortable when away from home?
- What activities does your child enjoy?
WHAT DO YOU WANT IN A CHILD CARE PROVIDER?
- Does the provider’s level of education matter to you? Do you prefer an individual with a degree in early childhood? Do you prefer an individual with a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential?
- Is it important that the provider has years of experience in providing care for young children?
- What discipline philosophy do you prefer a provider has?
- How much flexibility do you need your provider to have in relationship to your work hours?
WHAT ABOUT LOCATION AND COST OF CHILD CARE?
Your child care choice needs to fit with your family schedule and budget. Cost needs to be a consideration in choosing child care for your child. However, cost is not as important as assuring your child is cared for in a safe, nurturing environment while you are away. Some questions to ask include:
- Does the child care location work for your day/work routine?
- Does it work better if your child care is closer to your work or your home?
- What is your budget? How much are you able to pay? Is it worth it to you to pay for a provider with education and experience?
- What kind of activities do you do with the children?
Conduct a telephone interview
BASIC INFORMATION CAN BE GATHERED BY PHONE WHEN SEARCHING FOR CHILD CARE.
Questions to ask:
- How many children do you care for?
- What days and hours are you open?
- What are the ages of children in your care?
- What’s your daily schedule for the children?
- Are you registered or licensed by the state?
- What is your education level?
- How many years have you worked with children?
- Can you provide other parent references?
- Do you have pets?
- What are your fees?
- Can I schedule a visit?
VISIT THE CHILD CARE
YOU MAY NOT WANT TO BRING YOUR CHILD TO THE FIRST VISIT.
- Is the child care facility clean and safe?
- Are the outlets covered, cabinets locked?
- Is there a nap area?
- Is the bathroom clean and available?
- Is there a fenced outside area with a large play area?
- If there are stairs, are they gated?
- How many children do you count per child care provider?
- How do the children interact with each other?
- How does the provider communicate to the children?
- Does the provider get down to eye level with the children when he/she speaks to them?
- What types of meals or snacks are served?
- What is your discipline policy?
- How do you handle biting?
- Do you have an open-door policy on visits?
- What is your physical activity policy?
- What is your food and nutrition policy?
- Do you have a safe sleep policy?
- Do you have any toilet training policies?
- What is your sick child policy?
- What kind of activities do you do with the children?
After you feel comfortable with your choice, go back for a second visit with your child. Observe how your child reacts during your visit to determine if this child care provider will be suitable for your child.
Developmental Milestones - Learn the Signs Act Early
From birth to age 5, your child should reach milestones. Developmental milestones are skills children reach in how they learn, play, speak, act and move. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a comprehensive list of developmental milestones and a free Milestones Tracker.
As a parent, you do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to have your child’s growth and development screened. The follow agencies can assist you in identifying a resource that can provide a developmental screening:
- Early Childhood Enrichment Offices
- Birth to Three – 1-800-305-3064 or find your local service coordinator
- Head Start – find a location near you
- Community Health – find the office nearest you
- Local public school
- Your child’s doctor
Learn the Signs. Act Early (CDC)
Birth to Three (South Dakota Department of Education)
Head Start (South Dakota Department of Education)
South Dakota Parent Connection
Ages & Stages Questionnaires®, Third Edition (Easter Seals) – be sure to share results with your provider
Health & Safety
211 Helpline: https://www.helplinecenter.org/
Alliance for a Healthier Generation: https://www.healthiergeneration.org/
American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.aap.org/
Department of Health (DOH): https://doh.sd.gov/
National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ): https://www.nichq.org/
Parent Connection: https://www.sdparent.org/
Zero to Three: https://www.zerotothree.org/
Need Child Care Information?
South Dakota State Department of Social Services, Child Care Services
Department of Social Services, Child Care Services, provides assistance to low income families who need help with child care costs while parents work or attend school. They also provide oversight, technical assistance and support in promoting safe, healthy and caring environments for children through licensing, registration and quality improvement activities.
To locate child care anywhere in South Dakota, go to http://dss.sd.gov/childcare/ – Click on “Search for Child Care” in the right hand column.
CHILD CARE HELP LINE
The Child Care HELP Line is a child care resource and referral program serving Sioux Falls and surrounding communities. To locate child care in Sioux Falls or the surrounding communities, dial 211 or (605) 339-4357.
To search the HELP Line online database go to http://www.helplinecenter.org/2-1-1-community-resources/child-care-resources/
Common Sense Parenting – Growing Up Together
Responsive Parenting (free six-week class series)
- The Parent Child Relationship
- The Unique Child Temperament
- Responding to Your Child’s Needs
- How and What Your Child Learns
- Parenting is Stressful
- Encouraging Your Child
DSS’s Responsive Parenting Classes
Understanding Me Up to Age 3
Free four-week class series that helps parents to understand the world from a child’s perspective in order to respond in ways that encourage and enhance a child’s development.
- WHY I DO WHAT I DO: Young children tell us what they are thinking, learning and feeling through their behaviors. Understanding these behaviors can help you find out what your child is telling you. Discover what children do and say at various ages and what you can do to encourage your child’s development.
- KEEP ME SAFE: Young children are naturally curious and impulsive. Safety is not something young children think about; they just want to see it, touch it, taste it and grab it. Get guidelines and tips to help keep your home a safe place for your little one to grow and learn.
- HOW I LEARN: Young children love to learn. What do children learn at different ages? How can you help encourage your child’s learning? Receive tips and tools to encourage your child’s natural desire to learn.
- HELP ME MANAGE MY FEELINGS: Young children are learning how to manage their feelings. This skill is key to developing friendships and self-confidence. Gain insight on guiding and encouraging your child through the stressful moments of growing up.