If you're still interested in the program or provider, find out more about the individual caregiver. "Start focusing on: 'Who's going to care for my child, what are the qualifications of that person and how do I feel about that person?'" Smith says.

Here are some characteristics Smith recommends looking for in a caregiver.

  • Wants and likes to be with children
  • Motivated to work
  • Has a sense of humor
  • Feels a connection with children
  • Has common sense about what a child needs
  • Stays calm under pressure
  • Has enough physical energy to keep up with your child
  • Possesses a positive attitude
And if you find the right match for your child, sometimes these bonds between caregiver and child last long after the children are cared for.

"The quality of childcare really depends on the adult-child interaction and how good that is," Smith says. "That requires someone who has the ability to focus in on a child, where she's at, what her needs are (developmentally). The expectations are really important."

Get the NACCRRA's checklist on how to find high-quality childcare.

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