What should parents look for when choosing childcare?

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — When it comes to caring for your child, it's a choice no parent takes lightly.

10TV sat down with Action for Children, a childcare resource and referral agency which provides support to both parents and providers.

"Parents ultimately want to know, when they drop their children off at a childcare center, that they are going to be safe and nurtured and well-cared for — just like they would if they were at home with mom," said Sarah Pontious, Action for Children Outreach and Engagement Manager.

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Pontious said the most important thing parents can do is take their time when making a decision. They have a "5C Checklist," which stands for count, content, caregiver, contract, and communication. They are questions that can only be answered by visiting the facility.

"It's not a decision you want to make by having a one-time phone interview with somebody," Pontious said. "You need to go there. You need to see what's happening in that home or childcare center to really get a feel for what's happening."

Pontious said unannounced visits can be helpful. You should ask to see your child's actual classroom and observe how the students are interacting. Do they look happy? Another helpful tool is searching for programs online through childcaresearch.ohio.gov. You can search the facility inspection reports to see if they are up to standard.

"Have they had issues? Have they corrected those issues? Are they on a path to make good changes in their programs? If you see something in the inspection report, ask the center director, 'What's your plan to fix this issue?' Make sure you feel confident in the answer you are given," Pontious said.

Once you choose a provider, make sure you keep paying attention and asking questions. You know your child best.

"Are they acting differently when they come home? Does something not feel right? When you have those school-agers, talk about their day, see what is happening. Did your friends have good days? Maybe something is not happening to them, but they witness something that they didn't like that is going on somewhere else in the center," Pontious said.

For more helpful tips, visit the Action for Children website. Providers can also find information on programs and services offered here.