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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Choosing Child Care

Selecting child care is one of the most critical decisions facing parents during their children’s early years. Finding quality care can be difficult.

As a parent, it is important to learn what quality child care looks like so that you can make the best possible decision for your child and your family. In the first of two UA Matters posts, representatives from The University of Alabama’s Child Development Resources, a part of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, offer some key points parents need to consider.

  • Start early and plan ahead when selecting child care. Thinking about child care early in your pregnancy is not too early.
  • Consider the type of care you prefer – center-based care or home-based care.
  • Child care centers operating more than four hours per day must be licensed by the Alabama Department of Human Resources unless they are affiliated with a faith-based organization and have received legal exemption. Programs affiliated with public school systems, government agencies or colleges and universities are considered approved and are not required to be licensed.
  • Family day care homes must be licensed by the county Department of Human Resources. Caregivers may care for six children in addition to the caregivers’ own children. Group day care homes may accommodate up to 12 children and must have a second caregiver in addition to the licensed family child care provider.
  • Consider screening providers by telephone in order to eliminate inappropriate providers and to narrow the file of prospective arrangements. Ask basic questions related to availability of openings in the program, ages of children served by the program, cost of care, options for part-time or full-time care and what the daily program looks like.


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UA Matters is a weekly posting that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The information is available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Kim Eaton at 205/348-8325 or>.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.