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Childcare 101

What every OU Parent Needs to Know

 

Step 1:

Decide on the features you are looking for at a childcare center.

· Are you are looking for home-based childcare or a center?

· For toddlers, are you looking for a preschool-based program or more of an unstructured center?

· Do you need an after-school or all-day program?

· Do you need part- or full-time care?

· Do you need evening or daytime care?

 

Step 2:

Determine if you qualify for a state child care subsidy?

· Subsidy is available for lower income families who are working or in school.

· Families earning approximately $2,425/month or less with one child in care, and $3,625/month with four or more children in care may qualify. If you are eligible, the state may pay all or part of the cost depending on your family income. You must choose licensed child care at a facility that has a contract with Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) to accept subsidy payment.

· To determine if you qualify, check out the childcare eligibility/co-payment chart.

· To apply for benefits, you can go to your local human services center or apply on-line.

· For more information, you can also call OKDHS at 1-866-411-1877.

 

Step 3:

Determine which child care centers meet your criteria.

· The OKDHS Child Care Locator can offer selections based on many variables.

· Oklahoma Childcare Resource and Referral has links to each county’s resource and referral agency. Here you can look up centers in your community that fit your criteria.

· For those in Cleveland County, Rainbow Fleet – Enhancing Child Development for Central Oklahoma is a great resource for looking up centers/homes.

· Other resources for finding childcare include: Norman Child Care Home Referral List and Day Care Resource Connection – Oklahoma.

 

Step 4:

After you have narrowed your choices, select several to contact.

· Some center and home programs have waiting lists, so find out about current openings.

· Find out about cost and if the center/home takes subsidies (if applicable).

· Make a list of questions that are important to you such as: hours of operation; child to staff ratio; available enrichment activities for children that happen during the day; transporting children; communication with parents; TV/computer use; discipline style; whether lunches and/snacks are included; staff experience; policies on sick children; and background checks – just to name a few.

· Make visits to the center/home and even plan a visit with your child.

· Once you’ve determined a center/home that you like, ask for parent references. Other parents who have their children in care can be a valuable resource and a unique perspective.