Finding quality child care: Will my child be nurtured and cared for?

Leaving your child with caregivers can be difficult and knowing how to find a safe, engaging and quality center-based or home-based program is incredibly important.

Adults in quality programs have positive interaction with children throughout the day.
Adults in quality programs have positive interaction with children throughout the day.

Leaving your child to be cared for by someone else is often one of the hardest parts about being a parent. Taking the time to find child care options that are high quality, educational, supportive and safe can make the process a little less daunting. 

Ask yourself four questions when investigating a center-based or home-based child care:

This article will focus on the second question, will my child be nurtured and cared for?

Will my child be nurtured and cared for?

How are children supervised? Children should have constant supervision throughout the day, including times when they are sleeping. Do the adults position themselves in places where they can observe all children, including during nap times?

Do the adults make the parents and children feel welcome? Children and parents should be greeted when they arrive in the morning and should attempt to make children feel comfortable and welcomed each morning. Adults in quality programs have positive interactions with children throughout the day, they offer to join them in play, are encouraging and supportive, and provide comfort and support when needed.

What is the discipline policy or procedures? Early childhood programs should use positive discipline (or guidance) techniques to help children learn how to make good and safe choices. Make sure adults set limits for children and redirect children when needed. Appropriate consequences can be used to help guide a child’s behavior when it is needed. Appropriate consequences might include temporary removal of privileges. Children should never be subjected to yelling, cursing or any form of physical punishment.

What is the ratio of children to adults? Michigan has licensing rules for child care centers and family and group homes regarding ratios of adults to children. The ratios for child care centers are below.

Child to adult ratios for child care centers in Michigan


Ratio of adults to children

Maximum group size

Infants and toddlers (birth-30 months)

1 adult for every 4 children

12 children

Preschoolers (30 months-3 years old)

1 adult for every 8 children

16 children

Preschoolers (3-4 years old)

1 adult for every 10 children

Not applicable

Preschoolers (4 year old-school age)

1 adult for every 12 children

Not applicable


1 adult for every 18 children

Not Applicable

Family and group homes must have one adult for every six children present, and there may not be more than four children under the age of 30 months, and no more than two under the age of 18 months.

What kind of training do adult caregivers have? Investigate what kind of education or experience adult care providers have. Quality programs will hire adults who have specific training in child care and should regularly participate in ongoing training.

For more information about finding quality care for your children, check out the following resources:

Also, check out the guide “Is This The Right Place For My Child?” from Childcare Aware, which includes 38 questions to ask any potential child care provider. For more information about Michigan child care rules and regulations, check out the licensing rules for child care centers and family and group homes.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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