Agenda for Children

How to Find Quality Care

1. Start Early

Start looking as far in advance as you can. No matter what type of care you are considering—a child care center, care in someone’s home, or a school-based program—finding the right child care option can take some time.

2. Make a call

Begin your search by calling your local experts—your Child Care Resource & Referral agency (CCR&R). CCR&Rs can give you the facts about child care and a list of child care options in your area that meet your needs. If you are looking for child care in Southeast Louisiana, Agenda for Children is your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.  Call us at 1-800-486-1712 to receive a referral or use our online search option.

Make sure to ask the referral specialist these questions:

3. Visit and Ask Questions

When you visit child care centers or family child care homes, consider these key indicators of quality:

Quality Rating

If the program is a Type III early learning center, a preschool located in a public school, a Head Start or Early Head Start program or a private school that participates in the NSECD program, it must participate in Louisiana's rating system for early care and education programs. Each program is rated on the quality of teacher-child interactions in their Toddler and Preschool classrooms. The Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) includes that information (and a lot more!) in the Performance Profiles they create for each program. To help families learn about Performance Profiles, the LDE has put together a video, a site key and a guide. Once you know more about the ratings, you can look up performance profiles on the LDE's School Finder web site. As a parent, you may even be eligible to receive an enhanced tax credit on your Louisiana state income tax if you choose a center with two or more stars.

Adult to Child Ratio

Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. You want your child to get plenty of attention. The younger your child, the more important this is. The experts at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that babies need an adult to child ratio of no more than 1 adult for 3 or 4 infants, while most 4-year-olds can do well with a ratio of one adult for 8-10 children. In general, Louisiana law allows centers to have higher child:staff ratios than what is recommended by NAEYC.

If you choose a licensed child care center, the center must have child to staff ratios of no more than:

Ages of ChildrenType II and III RatiosType I Ratios
Infants under 12 months 5:1 6:1
One year old 7:1 8:1
Two year old 11:1 12:1
Three year old 13:1 14:1
Four year old 15:1 16:1
Five year old 19:1 20:1
Six year old and up 23:1 25:1

If you choose a family child care home, the child to adult ratio should be no more than six children to one adult. Many programs choose to keep lower child to staff ratios than are required by law, so be sure to ask about it. 

Group Size

Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better for your child. NAEYC recommends that babies need a group size of no more than 6-8 in a room. Four-year-olds should be in a group of no more than 16-20 children.  

State licensing regulations for group size are:

Ages of ChildrenMaximum Group Size Allowed by Law: Type II and IIIMaximum Group Size Allowed by Law: Type I
Infants under 12 months 15 18
One year old 21 24
Two year old 22 24
Three year old 26 28
Four year old 30 32
Five year old 38 40
Six year old and up 46 50


Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Accredited programs have voluntarily met standards for child care that are higher than state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children and National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) are two prominent organizations that provide accreditation.


Check how long the child care providers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It is best if children stay with the same child care provider for at least a year. It is hard for children if their child care providers change frequently.

Child Care Provider Qualifications

Ask about the child care providers’ training and education. Child care providers with special training in working with children are better able to help your child learn.

4. Make a Choice

After visiting programs, think about what you saw at each visit and make the best choice for your child and family. Our partners at Child Care Aware have developed a checklist of things to look for as you make this decision. Child Care Aware also offers information and a checklist of considerations for parents of children with special needs.

5. Stay Involved

The work is not over when you find good care for your child. You and your child care provider are partners now. Here are some ways to be involved:

Even if you cannot get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask your child care provider how things are going and how your child is doing.

Visiting and participating in events at your child’s program when possible sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child care provider that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.

These Five Steps to Choosing Quality Care were based upon publications developed by our partners at Child Care Aware.

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