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I'm considering unlicensed child care. How can I make sure that my child will be safe?

If you arrange to have your children taken care of in your own home or in an unlicensed child care program, use the checklists in the answer to the question "When I visit a potential child care program, what should I look for?" to make sure that your children are in a safe and healthy environment and that the caregivers help your children learn and grow.

If you do not know the caregiver well, ask other people who know the caregiver to tell you about her/him. Ask questions such as, "How does she/he get along with children?" and "When the children are playing outside, who is with them and what are they doing?" Also, ask any other questions that are important to you. The answers will help you decide if this child care provider can give your children safe, healthy, and good care.

Additionally, contact Missouri's Family Care Safety Registry to request background information on the child care provider in question. The Registry was established by law to protect children and the elderly and to promote family and community safety by providing background information on potential caregivers. Beginning in January 2001, families and employers can call the registry's toll-free telephone line for background information (1-866-422-6872). To learn more, visit:

Remember, child care in your own home and unlicensed child care programs may not be as dependable as other child care programs. To guarantee that you have child care when you need it, make backup arrangements for your children in case of an emergency.


Sara Gable, Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia



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Last update: Thursday, November 06, 2008




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