Child Care Options

Tools To Help You Choose

Steps to Finding the Best Child Care for Your Family

Finding the right child care for your family is a big decision!  There is so much to consider; location, price, size, ages served, schedule, training of staff, cleanliness, materials, etc.  Available below are some tools to help you choose.

Types of Care – Pros and Cons 

There are pros and cons for each type of care. To help you decide what is important to you the following provides you with a comparison at a glance:

wdt_IDFeatureChild Care CentersFamily Child CareIn-Home Care
1How children are groupedSimilar ages grouped togetherMixed agesIndividual or family group
2Group sizeLarger groups of childrenSmall groups of childrenIndividually sized group of children
3AtmosphereSchool-like atmosphereHome-like atmosphereAt home
4Teacher TrainingTraining requiredTraining requiredNo training or licensing required
5Exposure to illnessHighest risk of exposure to illnessLess risk of exposure to illnessLowest risk of exposure to illness
6Opportunities for observation and monitoringMost opportunity for public observation and monitoringLess opportunity for public observation and monitoringNo opportunity for public observation and monitoring
7StaffingMultiple staff members to cover for illness and vacationsLimited staff members to cover illness and vacationsNo backup staff to cover illness and vacations
8Hours of operationOperation hours are not flexibleMore flexibility for individual schedulesMost flexibility for individual schedules
9Potential for staff turnoverHighest potential staff turnoverConsistent primary caregiversConsistent primary caregivers
10Tax implicationsPayments are tax deductible *Payments are tax deductible *Tax implications ^

* If you use unlicensed care that should be licensed in Delaware, you cannot take it as a tax deduction. Please check with your tax expert to find out the details for your individual family.

^ There are tax implications both for the parent and the provider when using in-home care (care that takes place in the child’s home).  Please check with your tax expert to find out the details for your individual family.


The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) regularly visits child care providers to review that basic health and safety standards are being followed. These records are available to the public.

They can be found on each provider’s record by searching OCCL.

Also, you can return to the Home page and search “Looking in Delaware.”

Quality Rating  and Improvement System (QRIS)

Delaware Stars for Early Success Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)  is a voluntary program used to measure, improve and communicate the level of quality in early care and education and school-age settings.  Participating programs are awarded up to 5 Stars. (Currently on hold and being restructured).

What does the number of stars mean?

Ratings for Delaware Stars are based on classroom observations and proof that the program is meeting high-quality standards.  Delaware Stars uses the Environment Rating Scales (ERS) as an observation tool that assigns a score based on a one-time observation.  The four areas considered in the quality standards include;

  • Family and Community Partnerships,
  • Qualifications and Professional Development,
  • Management and Administration,
  • Learning Environment and Curriculum.

The chart below compares the basic requirements for each star level.

Star LevelLicensing Statuswdt_IDQuality Improvement PlanQuality Standard PointsEssential StandardsERS Score
Starting with Stars (1)Good Standing1Writing Initial PlanNANANA
Star Level 2Good Standing2Editing and Implementing PlanNANANA
Star Level 3Good Standing3Editing and Implementing Plan40-59NA3.4
Star Level 4Good Standing4Editing and Implementing Plan60-79Developmental Screenings, Formative Assessments, Curriculum Planning, Staff Training4.4
Star Level 5Good Standing5Implementing Plan80-100Developmental Screenings, Formative Assessments, Curriculum Planning, Staff Training5.4

Alternative Pathways

  • Programs accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) are designated Star Level 5, once they are participating in Delaware Stars, due to the difficulty of obtaining and maintaining this accreditation.
  • Head Start and state-funded Early Childhood Assistance Programs (ECAP) are designated Star Level 4, once participating in Delaware Stars, due to the monitoring of federal and state performance standards.  To advance to a Star Level 5, these programs must score a minimum of 5.4 on each ERS classroom assessment.


Accreditation is another way a child care provider communicates the quality of their program. In order to become accredited by an agency child care providers are evaluated according to the agency’s set of rules. Some child care providers in Delaware are accredited by the following agencies. Visit their websites for more information on the rules and process for becoming accredited.

My Child DE is a user-friendly website that brings together resources to help families, providers and other caretakers make informed choices for the children of Delaware. The goal of My Child DE is to help these groups feel welcome, informed and empowered to engage, learn and take the next steps needed to support children.