Finding a safe place for your child to be looked after is a daunting task. With an abundance of facilities available, how can parents know for sure which location will be best for their child’s needs? Here are a few things to consider when looking for safe and quality child care.

Know your needs

Before looking at the quality of a location, parents should take time to consider needs that might limit their choices.

  • How will your children get to the location? Does the facility need to be within walking distance? Driving distance?
  • What hours of availability do you have? Does the location need to be open early so that a parent can drop off their children before work? Do they need to stay open long enough so that a parent can pick them up after work?
  • What’s your budget? Are the fees of a facility within your budget?

Taking these questions into consideration will help parents greatly narrow down their choices and bring them closer to finding a safe choice for their children.

You’ve got options

On top of knowing needs, it’s important for parents to know about the various different kinds of childcare facilities available. Each offers slightly different hours, programming, and environments, so knowing which fits best with their needs, as well as the needs of their child, will further help parents find the best choice.

While public child care facilities must meet minimum standards set by the Government of Alberta in order to be licenced, a licence does not necessarily ensure high degrees of safety and quality. The safest and highest-quality facilities will go above and beyond the minimum requirements.

How can parents tell if a facility goes above and beyond? In Alberta, licenced child care facilities can apply for an Alberta Child Care Accreditation, which requires a facility to eclipse standard licence requirements. The accreditation is intended to indicate excellence, and as such can help parents narrow down their choices further.

Contact and visit potential providers

After narrowing down choices through looking at needs and facility options, parents should reach out and contact potential providers to set up a visit to the facility. In-person observation of the facility’s environment, programs, and caregivers will greatly help parents in determining if the facility is right for their child. Parents should also ask questions about the facility in order to get a deeper sense of what the facility, caregivers, and programs are like.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when observing:

  • (If the facility is licenced) The licence is displayed in an area that is easily visible
  • The facility is clean and in good shape
  • When children leave the facility (i.e. to go to the park), they are well-supervised  
  • There is a variety of age-appropriate equipment, toys, and materials for children
  • The facility is set up in a safe, accessible, and interesting way
  • Staff/caregivers can provide a police reference check
  • Staff/caregivers treat children with respect
  • (If the location has a program) Parents are involved in or consulted about the program or other aspects of the child care

Staying involved

Once parents have chosen a facility for their child, they should stay involved and inquire regularly about their child and the program. They should ask their child how they like the facility and continue to ask questions to facility staff. If any concerns arise, parents should act on them; it’s better to act and be safe than to not.

More information

For more information on safe child care in Alberta, please visit:

Written by Zebra Child Protection Centre