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Advice on picking a day care

Lawton_Choosing a day care can be a tiring task. There are so many things for parents to look for before deciding what is right for their child -- from making sure the facilities are clean and the staff friendly, to safety issues. But there are some top things parents should know before choosing a day care facility for their child.

  Many parents 7NEWS talked to said choosing child care shouldn't just take a day or two. They said the best thing you can do when it comes to finding good child care is to shop around.

  Parents say research is important. "Basically check it out, make sure there are no things online that say they have had problems. Ask around," said mom Tina Alley. Child care providers also say research is key.

  The Department of Human Services has a website that helps parents find good day cares for their children. They use what they call the "Reaching for the Stars Program". The program rates the centers based on quality. One-star meets minimum licensing requirements and two or three stars meet additional quality criteria or are nationally accredited. "They need to be 3 star or at the very least 2 star. They need to make sure they are looking at the stars that center has because that verifies the quality of that center," said Pam Kerr of Playcare, Inc. in Lawton.

  Parents should also check on the facilities compliance file which will have the reports of their most recent visits from state licensing workers. "In every directors office there should be a compliance file and that should be readily available to the parents," said Kerr.

  Parents say when it comes to deciding who will take care of your little one, cost shouldn't be the only factor. "It is really important to not look at the price and to really look at the quality or the center and the caring people who work at the center," said mom Heather Steadman.

  It's also a good idea for parents to scout the centers at random times throughout the day. Go during lunchtime to make sure the children at the facility are receiving nutritious meals. It will also help you gauge the number of children who are in the center's care.

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