Start Your Child Care Search

childChoosing child care is one of the most important decisions you will make for your child. For more than 20 years, Child Care Aware® of Kansas has helped families just like yours understand how to determine the best child care setting for their child. Our statewide network of child care resources and referral agencies (CCR&Rs) work together to connect families across Kansas to child care in their area.

Call 785-357-5171 in Topeka, 877-678-2548 toll free, and select option “1” to speak with one of our knowledgeable Resource Specialists. Our Parent Resource Center’s hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. They will assist you in your child care search – providing you with a list of licensed child care providers in your area, as well as personalized information that will help you choose the right child care provider for your family. All services to parents are at no cost and all information shared is confidential. If you prefer to do your own search or need information outside of our normal business hours, you may perform an online child care search here. If you are a child care provider and wish to update your records with us, simply call 785-357-5171 in Topeka, 877-678-2548 toll free or email us at

While we are pleased to provide a free referral service, Child Care Aware® of Kansas cannot legally endorse or recommend any one child care program. The list of facilities you receive are referrals, not recommendations. Every effort is made to supply you with up-to-date information. Your referral list will contain child care programs':

  • contact information
  • location
  • days and times care is available
  • program vacancy information
  • environment description
  • child care provider educational qualifications
  • child care provider training, accreditation status

We maintain confidentiality of all information we receive from you. Your email address will be used only by Child Care Aware® of Kansas and our agencies. It will not be sold or otherwise distributed. You will receive information about the Kansas Parent Action and Information Center, an online newsletter helping families obtain the latest information on child care issues and other helpful information.

Choosing High-Quality Care

What determines high-quality child care?

When considering a child care setting, parents naturally look for a warm and nurturing caregiver. Equally important are two other types of measures that also indicate a high-quality environment.


The first is the process – what goes on in the program, their procedures, activities and so on. The second is the structure – the physical environment, safety features and number of child care providers/teachers and children. Both are equally important. When you are considering a child care program, whether it is center-based or a family child care home, below are some questions that you could ask the child care programs (and yourself) that would help determine if the program provides high-quality care:

  • Do they follow a curriculum?
  • How many children are in care?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children?
  • If it is a child care center, how are the children grouped?
  • How long has the facility been licensed?
  • What kind of training and certification do the child care staff have?

Parents want their children in a safe environment with a “warm” caregiver in a program that provides lots of activities and learning opportunities for their children. All of these qualities are part of an engaging and appropriate setting that many parents consider when choosing child care.

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Regulated Care

All facilities that provide child care are licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). KDHE administers the child care licensing laws and issues licenses for child care facilities to protect the health, safety and welfare of children receiving care away from home.

Child Care Provider Compliance History Check: Before selecting a child care facility, families can do a child care provider compliance history check using the Child Care and Early Education Portal at

KDHE Licensing Requirements: Below are a few Kansas requirements for regulated child care. For a complete list, visit the KDHE website at

  • The licensee must be 18 years of age, have an understanding of children, completed certified first aid and CPR, as well as child care related training.
  • Each new applicant applying for a license to maintain a child care facility must be a high school graduate or the equivalent, such as having a GED.
  • A Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) criminal history and child abuse and neglect background check is processed on all persons living, working or volunteering in the licensed day care home. National background checks are not required.
  • Facilities are inspected to check compliance with regulations to protect the health, safety and well-being of the children in care at least once every 12 months.

Examples of child care arrangements when a license is NOT required:

  • When child care is provided in the child’s own home. For example, a nanny or other caregiver that comes to your home to care for your child.
  • When child care is provided in the home of the child’s relative.
  • A residential facility or hospital that is operated and maintained by a state agency. For example, facilities operated by school districts.


What types of regulated child care are available?

Family Child Care

Licensed Day Care Home (one child care provider): A child care facility in which care is provided for a maximum of 10 children under 16 years of age (includes children under 11 years of age related to the child care provider). The total number of children in care at any one time is based on the ages of the children in care.

License Capacity: One Child Care Provider
Maximum Number of Children Under 18 Months Maximum Number of Children at Least 18 Months but Under 5 Years of Age Maximum Number of Children at Least 5 Years of Age but Under 11 Years of Age License Capacity
0 7 3 10
1 5 4 10
2 4 3 9
3 3 2 8

Group Day Care Home (two child care providers): A child care facility in which care is provided for a maximum of 12 children under 16 years of age (includes children under 11 years of age related to the child care provider[s]). The total number of children in care at any one time is based on the ages of the children in care.

License Capacity: Two Child Care Providers
Maximum Number of Children Under 18 Months Maximum Number of Children at Least 18 Months but Under 5 Years of Age Maximum Number of Children at Least 5 Years of Age but Under 11 Years of Age License Capacity
1 8 3 12
2 7 3 12
3 6 3 12
4 4 2 10

Child Care Center (CCC)

A child care facility in which care and educational activities are provided for 13 or more children 2 weeks to 16 years of age for more than three hours and less than 24 hours per day including daytime, evening and nighttime care, or that provides before and after-school care for school-age children.

CCC & Preschool Staff to Child Ratios
Age of Children Maximum Staff/Child Ratio Maximum Number of
Children per Unit Size
Infants (2 weeks to 12 months) 1 to 3 9
Infants to 6 years 1 to 4
(Maximum of 2 Infants)
(Maximum of 4 Infants)
Toddlers (12 months to 2 years
if walking alone)
1 to 5 10
2 to 3 years 1 to 7 14
2 ½ years to School Age 1 to 10 20
3 years to School Age 1 to 12 24
Kindergarten Enrollees 1 to 14 28
School Age 1 to 16 32


A child care facility which provides learning experiences for children who have not attained the age of eligibility to enter kindergarten and who are 30 months of age or older; that conducts sessions not exceeding three hours per session; that does not enroll any child in more than one session per day; and that does not serve a meal. The term “preschool” shall include education preschools, Montessori schools, nursery schools, church-sponsored preschools and cooperatives. A preschool may have fewer than 13 children and be licensed as a preschool if the program and facility meet preschool regulation.

The license for the preschool states the maximum number of children that can be in care at any one time. It also states the maximum number of children than can be in care in any one unit by age group. Staff-to-child ratios must be maintained at all times.

NOTE: People in the process of becoming licensed as a family child care provider may be issued a temporary permit that is valid for 90 days. A person with a temporary permit will have attended an orientation session, submitted their written application to KDHE, and passed the DCF and KBI registry check. They may not have had their inspection visit and may still have corrections to complete before receiving a permanent license. A child care provider with a temporary license must follow all of the same regulations, including license capacity.

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Cost of Child Care

The cost of child care will vary depending on the age of your child, the activities of the program, the child care provider’s qualifications and the geographic location of the facility.

Federal Assistance: You may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Call 1-800-829-1040 or visit for more information.

State Assistance: The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) has funding available to help income-eligible families pay for child care in a regulated facility, by a relative or by an in-home caregiver. You can call them toll free at 1-888-369-4777 or visit for more information.

Military Subsidies: You may qualify for child care subsidy assistance if you are an Active Duty military family or Active Duty National Guard (AGR) serving under Title 10 or Title 32, United States Code (U.S.C.). Visit for information on how to apply.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA): This tax-advantaged financial account allows an employee to set aside earnings to pay for care. Money deducted from an employee’s pay into an FSA is not subject to payroll taxes, resulting in substantial payroll tax savings.

Local Assistance: A facility may give you a discount for having multiple children enrolled or offer a sliding fee. Some businesses and communities have programs to help families pay for child care.

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Finding the Right Child Care Program

Explore. Know your options. Start looking for child care as soon as you can. Finding the right child care setting may take some time.

Evaluate. Consider your preferences. For example, think about the individual learning style of your child (does he/she prefer small groups or large groups?), your family's needs, the location and the hours of care.

Observe. Visit at least three child care programs before making your final decision. Interview prospective child care providers and talk to everyone who will be involved in your child’s care. Plan to spend 30 to 60 minutes at each interview. Take your child with you to see if the program is a good fit for them. To help guide you through the interview, refer to the questions listed in the “Final Checklist” section below.

Decide. Think about what you saw at each visit. Refer to your notes and trust your instincts. Pay attention to any uneasy feelings you may have.

Be Involved. You and your child care provider are partners now. You have the right to visit your child’s program any time your child is there. Making such visits are one way to monitor the quality of care your child is receiving.

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Successful Child Care Search

The interview and selection process is unique for every parent and child care provider. Suggestions to help you make the best decision possible and establish a lasting partnership with your child care provider are listed below:

10 Tips for Success

1. Keep all scheduled appointments when meeting with child care providers. If you need to cancel, call as soon as possible.

2. References should be provided upon request. It is your responsibility to interview the references.

3. Make sure you read and agree to the child care provider’s contract and policies. Keep a copy for your records. If you feel that the child care provider is not adhering to their own policies, mention it. Small issues can quickly become big issues.

4. Pay on time. Your child care provider is operating a business and depends on you.

5. You will need the child care provider’s tax I.D. number (W-10 form) for taxes. It is the parent’s responsibility to ask for this information.

6. Pick up your child on time. If an emergency prevents you from being on time, call as soon as possible.

7. Plan to make unannounced visits to your child at the facility often to see what goes on throughout the day.

8. Communicate openly with your child care provider about your child and his/her progress, as well as any concerns you may have.

9. Find ways to get involved. Working together is key to making the partnership work.

10. Talk to or read your child(ren)’s cues to know if they are happy!

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Final Checklist

Here is a list of questions you should ask while interviewing prospective child care programs and providers:

Are you licensed by the state of Kansas? Look for a posted Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) state license, which will show the capacity of the facility based on space and the ages of children in care.

May I see the latest Notice of Survey Findings? This document will show the results of the latest inspection by KDHE. Ask to see the most current Notice of Survey Findings.

What steps do you take to keep my child healthy and safe? Poisons, medications, weapons and other dangerous substances should be locked up. All children and adults in the facility should wash their hands frequently. Look for working smoke detectors and that electrical outlets are covered. There should be no smoking during business hours. Ask to see the child care provider’s most current CPR and First Aid certificate.

What is your adult/child ratio? It is important that the level of supervision is appropriate to the age group and their needs. In general, younger children need to be more closely supervised and will require a higher adult/child ratio.

How many children are in the group? Caregivers in small groups spend substantially more time interacting with children. Smaller group size is also associated with a lower risk of infection in child care and lower rates of disease.

How do you supervise the children? Children need to be actively supervised at all times, even when the children are sleeping. Ask how often children are visually checked while napping and where the infants sleep.

What child development training do you have? Ongoing training increases the quality of care children receive. Ask the child care provider about any degrees, certificates or special trainings.

What types of learning activities are in your daily routine? A daily schedule with a balance of indoor and outdoor, active and quiet, and age-appropriate activities should be followed. There should be enough games, blocks, dress-up clothes, books, etc. to allow children to select activities that interest them. The outdoor area should be safe with space to play freely. Ask the child care provider for a tour of the indoor and outdoor space used for play and learning activities.

How do you partner with families? The facility should allow you to visit your child at any time and should be accepting of your family’s cultural values. Ask the child care provider about family nights, conferences or volunteering opportunities that are available.

Do you have a policy handbook and contract? The handbook should include a discipline policy, fire/tornado emergency plans, sick child policy, etc. The contract should include payment rates and schedule, termination policy, hours of operation, etc. Ask the child care provider for a copy of the policy handbook and contract.

Are nutritious meals offered? Nutritious, balanced meals and snacks should be prepared, served and stored in a safe manner. Foods that can cause choking should not be served. Ask the child care provider to see a copy of the menu and if they participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Visit for more information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

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Credentials & Accreditation

Child Care Provider Credentials
Research clearly shows that education and specialized training in early childhood practice positively impacts the quality of an early learning program. Ask about the child care provider’s credentials.

The National Child Development Associate (CDA) credential qualifies child care providers who work with children birth to age 5. Child care providers who earn a CDA complete:

  • Hands-on experience with a specific age group.
  • Formal child development training and education.
  • Observation of skills and knowledge by a qualified advisor.
  • A professional resource file.
  • Gathering of parent questionnaires.
  • An oral interview and written test.

Accreditation indicates that a child care program meets nationally recognized guidelines for high-quality early care and education. Child care centers may be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Family child care providers may be accredited through the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). School-age programs may be accredited through the National Afterschool Association (NAA).

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Child Care Aware®

Join the Child Care Aware® Parent Network for free and connect with a national network of other parents and families. You will have access to family-friendly publications, child care search tools, a glossary of child care terms, budgeting assistance and videos.

Need Further Assistance? If you need further assistance in your child care search, contact a Resource Specialist at 785-357-5171 in Topeka or 1-877-678-2548 toll free for additional referrals and creative options that will help in your search. We are committed to helping you find the best information on locating quality child care and child care resources in your community.

Additional Resources
Child Care Aware® of America: Child Care Aware® of America has a monthly column, Are you Aware?, and a bimonthly newsletter, The Daily Parent, that are free and available in both English and Spanish. As a subscriber to Are You Aware? or The Daily Parent, you will receive emails notifying you when a new issue is available online. Your email address will be used only by Child Care Aware® and will not be sold or otherwise distributed. To subscribe, go to and enter your email address.

Local Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs): Contact your local Child Care Aware® of Kansas CCR&R agency for information about trainings and workshops for families. Visit for a state map with your local CCR&R contact information. Text KSKIDS to 59925 to receive information about child development, activities, healthy recipes, illness prevention, emergency planning and more.

Kansas Action & Information Center: Join our Kansas Action & Information Center to learn more about local, state and federal legislation, regulation and policies that may affect children and families and the child care and educational programs that serve them. Visit to sign up for regular notifications on changes that may impact you.