How Did YOU Find Your Current Day Care?

Updated on August 10, 2012
N.P. asks from Plainfield, IL
17 answers

I run a home daycare and need to fill some spots so I wanted to know how those of you that have used daycare or are using it - how did you find the place you are at? Either home based or center based. Obviously if it's Grandma or Auntie then that explains itself. I just need to know where to find clients.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the info, I have done EVERY SINGLE one of those things and just was wondering if there was some place else people find their providers. I still would like to hear from more people, statistical wise. Just wondering if say Craigslist wins over websearch or CCRR.

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answers from Bloomington on is one that's not been mentioned. Not that I've had any luck there... But it's worth a try.


answers from Dallas on

I asked my childrens teacher if there were any moms that babysat. They gave me the name of a sahm that has kids at that school.

My previous situation I found by asking my co-workers if they know anyone. One girl said her mom keeps her kids, so, I called her.

Bottom line, word of mouth. If you have school aged kids, get involved at the school, and let the teachers know you are available.

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answers from Dallas on

Our babysitter, who watches kids in her home, has been watching my daughters for YEARS now. We found her on craigslist. We absolutely love her, she is a part of our family, and my kids adore her. I hear people bash craigslist all the time but how else would I have found her??

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I was working FT and needed a center that was near to my home or office (or DH's office) and I wanted a center vs a home daycare because I needed certain hours as well as more certainty that they would be open even if one staff member was absent. We got pro/con advice from friends and coworkers.

I visited a small home daycare and two larger centers. DH vetoed the one at his office. He didn't like it. We tried to make ourselves like the one small daycare, but I didn't like that there was a TV on in the corner all day, for example. I don't expect a house to be spotless or modern, but it didn't look as kept as my cousin's mom's home daycare. It needed a few repairs.

The one big center came recommended from a friend but they seemed too expensive, too institutional and too regimented. I did not want my baby forced to be on their schedule.

The other one was in the wing of a church. It was a center, but it was clean, and bright and homey. They only had 6 babies in the class vs the other center where there were 12 (with the proper teacher ratio). They let DD have her own schedule and didn't try to charge me for food DD didn't eat (the big center offered 2 kinds of formula but if your kid didn't take formula or that brand, you were paying for something you didn't need). Her teachers were fantastic and they had been there a long time. Most all the staff had been there more than 2 years, many had degrees and they all had training. Communication was clear and I could come in at any time and get my kid. I didn't feel like they were hiding anything. I just felt "right" about it. They were also open 7-6, which allowed me to work til 5:30 and run over to get her. The center absolutely lived up to reputation and we would have rolled her right on through preschool had I stayed at that job.

So, you might talk to your current clients, especially those that seem happiest. Tell them that you have some space. You might also offer incentive, like if their friend's kid stays for 6 months they both get a discount on a week or something. Our old daycare offered 1 week free if your referral stayed 6 months.

Oh, and I chose DD's preschool because there were 2 churches that had signs up for their schools. Both said they were enrolling and one never answered my message. I'd looked at other school's websites so I knew what else was out there (and out of my price range). I went to see the one preschool and just liked it. DH went to see it and liked it, too. We had the same gut feel as we did about her daycare. So she's going there in the fall.

If you do not have an email address you check often, get one. Make sure you return calls and messages if you put out the word about openings. Consider making a simple website ( is free) to get people to come to you and fill out a form so you can contact them. Ask happy parents to give you a brief testimonial/review to put on your site. You can get inexpensive business cards from with that info on it. If you get a custom domain name, you can use that to get free company email through Google Apps. Etc. Basically, have many avenues to communicate, and be proactive and seem professional.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I've always posted on Craigslist and I have the BEST clients you could ask for!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

NAEYC website. I wanted a place that someone else had objectively evaluated. Then, from those accredited daycares in my area, I visited them all and went with the one that seemed like the best fit in terms of personalities of the teachers and director.

That said, my current center offers us a $100 credit for any family that we refer to the center who enrolls their child for at least 6 months. It's a great way to encourage current families to spread the word to friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Our library has a full page listing of center-based and home-based and church-based child care in our town. It's a full page flyer parents can take that is at the desk in the children's section of the library. I was so happy to have stumbled across the flyer when I was looking for my options as a pregnant mom. Good luck!


answers from Chicago on

I had my best luck on


answers from Austin on

My husbands co workers.

He asked around and found 3 different people that had their children at a certain place.

I then had him ask how long the children had been there. When each of them said years, I knew we had to check it out.



answers from New York on

Our first provider we found through a friend! She was amazing and had our son in her home (with other children) until just after her first birthday. Her husband was then transferred to Boston and it was like losing a family member. I cried for days.

She referred me to our second provider. Our son was with her for two years and then she made some funky adjustments to her hours and it no longer worked for us. She is quite established, so aside from being on the state licensed list and being on the local Child Care Council, she did not advertise (no website even).

Our current provider is a center. My older child is in their preschool program and my baby is in their infant program. I went on the state licensed website, typed in my parameters (location, hours, violations, etc) and called every single one on the list. We visited 6 that had anticipated spots and then went for interviews at 3.

So... no real advertising for any of the above. It was word-of-mouth and having a state license that got the ball rolling. Maybe let your other clients know and offer some kind of incentive if they bring in someone new? Our second provider offered a $50 credit for each new client you brought in.



answers from Chicago on

I suggest you register with the Child Care Resource & Referral Agency (CCCRA) in your area. I believe each county has its own. They provide parents referrals, particularly day care homes, and provide technical assistance and support to centers and homes (enrollment in the food care program, etc.). I don't work for a CCCRA, but I am aware of them and can provide you contact info privately, if you wish. My email is



answers from Boston on

I met my longest daycare provider at a PTA meeting when my oldest was in Kindergarten with her daughter. I was visibly pregnant and we started talking and it came up naturally in our conversation. She was the director of a local center, gave me her card and when I was ready, I toured her place and enrolled him.

When that center closed, I found my next one from her recommendation. Of the 5 other places in our area there was only one that she recommended without reservation. We looked at all of the other places and based on our observations and those of other displaced parents we eliminated the other centers. So word of mouth and reputation were huge.

Other places that I would have looked for recommendations would be the pediatrician's office, local schools and pre-schools, and our state's early childhood education and care directory (the on-line ECEC listing include inspection results etc. for licensed providers). A basic web page (even a Facebook page) would help as well.


answers from Minneapolis on

I do referrals for my small local association (I helped found the group 5 years ago..we have about 40-50 members on any given year). Many of our gals get clients this way. A parent will contact one of us, we can't help, so they send them to me and I refer them through the group.

Also, my food program has a web site where we can make a simple one page webpage for ourselves. This generates a fair amount of traffic. Word of mouth is HUGE!

Good luck!


answers from La Crosse on

Mine was pretty easy... there is only 3 home based day cares in our town.. no center's. Plus we live in a small town where everyone knows everyone.

But she put up fliers around town, put it all over her face book page and the local face book wanted/ sell/ trade pages. She also called and talked to the other two day cares in town and told them she was starting up ( knowing they were full) and asked if they would be willing to pass her name along as an option for daycare since they couldn't take anymore kids. She also put a larger ad in the news paper saying all of her history with kids and degree's and certifications she has.

Good luck!


answers from Chicago on

I found mine by searching Yelp reviews of local day care centers and pre-schools. You might want to consider asking some of your former and current parents to write Yelp reviews for you.

You could also advertise in local church bulletins.

Are you listed with Mamapedia's Local Businesses? I've searched for things on here, and have seen quite a few posts asking about childcare in Plainfield.

ETA: I wonder if there is a place you could advertise at Edward hospital. They have an ER & outpatient center in Plainfield, and I know most of the employees live in the area. There are a TON of young families there. Perhaps they have an internal board, or you could contact their H/R dept to see if there is somewhere you can advertise your services, like employee break rooms, etc.


answers from Washington DC on

My summer sitter is one of my mom's students - my mom is a college professor. It's worked out well, but we're ready for summer to be over now (kind of).

Our morning sitter for the school year we found off of, which also had in-home daycare places.

My sitter before that I found off of a local website that does news and advertising in our local area.



answers from Chicago on

There is a state list of licensed day care facilities that I always used in both Illinois and Indiana. I also did use Craigslist and Facebook, but I was very careful with those and made sure I did several interviews and also just popped in to see them, so they did not have time to prepare for me. I was very nervous with those, but if you do your homework and are very careful you can find people from those places.

I love our current day care and I found them on Craigslist.

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