Finding the right child care provider: the basics

Learn how to search for and choose the best daycare or preschool for your family.

Searching for the best provider for your family can feel like a big undertaking whether you’re a new parent looking for care for the first time or have already been through the process. Taking time to think through the major components of what you need and want in a care provider before you begin your search will make the process less overwhelming, leading to a seamless enrollment with a provider your family will love.  

I need child care, where do I begin?

Let’s start with the basics. The major pillars of a child care search are: Schedule, Location, Budget and Preferences. Consider each of the following to better understand your needs. Take notes, talk it over with your partner, friends or family. If you would like individualized assistance brainstorming with a Concierge Associate, reach out at or send us a message via the chat box in your Kinside account. 

Schedule of care

First up is tackling your care schedule. This may be simple for your family to outline, though here are some factors to consider:

  • Do you want licensed care or a nanny?
    • Licensed care almost always requires a commitment of full or part-time hours. Generally providers need you to commit to specific days of the week for a part-time schedule. For the most flexibility with a licensed provider, you should enroll full time and attend as needed. 
    • Nannies are usually the most flexible care option if you are not ready to make a commitment to specific days or full-time enrollment. Nanny searches are outside Kinside's expertise, but you can find a great option with our partner, UrbanSitter
  • Who will handle drop-offs and pick-ups? Does it depend on the day?
  • What are the work hours of those that will be responsible for drop-offs and pick-ups?
  • Do you need full-time or part-time care? 
    • Part-time care is rarely available for children under two years of age (considered infant care) because ratios for this age group are very low. 
    • Part-time care spots for older children are more readily available, but these spots are available far less often than full-time spots.
  • How far are you willing to travel for care and does the commute change the amount of hours in which you need care? 
  • Do you or anyone who may pick up your child often have to work late unexpectedly? If so, do you need a provider that is open late enough to provide a cushion in the event you are unable to pick your child up at the time planned?
  • Do you need care on any major holidays or work a non-traditional schedule?

Location of care

Now think about location — it would be most convenient for the provider to be:

    • Close to home 
    • Near work
    • Along your commute
    • Another location 
    • Totally open, the fit is what matters most

Will you primarily be driving, walking, or taking public transportation?

  • How might factors like traffic, weather and work schedules affect this?


What is your weekly or monthly budget for child care? Things to note while budgeting:

  • Some facilities provide formula, snacks and meals, and diapers and wipes as part of the cost of tuition
  • Some providers require a registration fee
  • Some providers charge a yearly or bi-annual materials fee
  • Some providers allow parents to pay weekly, while others require tuition to be paid on a monthly basis, beginning on the first day of the month
  • Some providers require full payment even when your child is absent
  • Some providers charge fees for late pick-ups, sometimes by the minute or billed as a flat rate for each instance the child is not picked up on time
Will you be using your Dependent Care FSA for child care expenses? Learn more about DCFSAs here.


What type of environment do you envision for your child(ren)? Here are some things to think about in choosing the best program:

  • Teacher-to-child ratios
    • Would your child benefit from a smaller ratio in which they may have more individualized care?
    • Is your child a social butterfly that would benefit from having a large group of friends?
  • Structured vs. unstructured
    • Do you prefer a program that follows a set schedule with a daily curriculum or prefer a more flexible program in which the children can play freely? 
  • Provider types: Home based and Centers
    • Do you have a strong preference for one or the other or is finding the best fit what is most important?
  • Pedagogies
    • What child care philosophies and early childhood pedagogies are important to you? 
      • Some pedagogies include:
        • Montessori 
        • Play based 
        • Waldorf
        • Reggio Emilia

        • Cooperative preschools
        • Language Immersion or Bilingual
        • Religious

I know what I'm looking for, what's next?

Great! You’re over the biggest hurdle and very prepared to begin searching for the provider of your dreams.

Tips to finding care on Kinside: 

  • Start a search in Kinside by typing in an address in the search bar
  • Use filters to narrow down your results based on age, price and availability
  • Want to learn more about a facility? Use the 'Send the provider a message' button in a provider’s profile to send a note to the director with questions about their availability, programming, and more
  • Not finding what you’re looking for? Reach out to us via the chat box in the lower right hand corner of your Kinside account

I have a list of favorites and I'm ready to tour

This is the home stretch. Maybe you’re trained in juggling after all. Use your Kinside account to request a tour with select providers:

  • In the provider’s profile, click Request a Tour
  • Select a day and time that works for you (you can enter multiple days/times)
  • Receive confirmation of your tour appointment from a Kinside Concierge Associate

Depending on your area, available spots can go quickly. When you attend the tour, be prepared to put down a registration fee or deposit if you love what you see and wish to enroll.

What do I look for during a daycare tour?

We’ve made a guide to touring for busy parents. Click here for the best questions to ask while on a tour.

Tours are not available at this time, what can I do?

If a care provider is unable to offer a tour, or maybe you’re not yet located in the area in which you’re searching for care, there are ways to assess if a provider is a good fit for you without visiting the facility.

Here’s what Kinside recommends:

  • Ask the provider if a virtual tour is an option
  • Set up a call with the provider to ask questions
  • Reach out with questions via email 
  • Check online for reviews
  • Ask the provider for references from families that are, or have been enrolled

Trust is a top priority at Kinside and we individually vet providers to ensure safety and quality. You can check a provider’s vetted status in their profile.

I'm ready to enroll

Amazing! You’re so close to resting easy, knowing your children will be cared for by your dream provider. 

The final steps:

  • Speak with the provider to find out how to register your child(ren) at their facility
  • Pay any necessary registration fees 

If you need help finalizing your enrollment or validating your discount with a partner provider, reach out to Concierge via the chat box or email us at