Child Care: Child Care Guide

To guide you in your search for child care, please read A Parent's Guide to Early Learning & Care in Michigan and the following:


Child care centers and family/group child care homes should be currently licensed/registered by the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Ask for proof of licensure, and check to ensure a center or home meets rules for caregiving staff-to-child ratios, staff qualifications, and program structure.

In addition, carefully review all Inspection/Renewal/Special Investigation Reports for any serious violations. A program's most recent state reports can be reviewed as you search for child care on the online State of Michigan child care databases. For a center or home program that you are seriously considering, older reports (dating back to the year 2000 or so) are available via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. You can submit an online request for "any and all existing reports for all licenses held by that licensee (i.e., the provider/owner/director), and any and all reports involving disciplinary action" and those reports will be e-mailed/mailed to you for your review.

State licensing rules are only minimal standards. Accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children/NAEYC (centers) or the National Association for Family Child Care/NAFCC (homes) is an indication of meeting child care quality standards. Also, Michigan now has a 5-star quality rating system for child care programs:


Centers provide care for a number of infants or children in a group setting outside of a home.

NAEYC for Families -- Child Care and Preschool

Potential Advantages:
  • Environment and staff responsibilities are focused on child care.
  • Teamwork can promote a positive atmosphere and spirit of cooperation.
  • Staff emergencies do not affect center's hours.
  • There is more than one adult to care for children.
  • A center may be more likely to provide a written account of an individual child's activities.
  • A center may be more likely to have connections with other community resources.
Potential Challenges:
  • Exposure to larger numbers of people increases the risk of illness.
  • A center may have a more institutional atmosphere.
  • A center may require more conformity and routine than home care, resulting in less flexibility.
  • Changing shifts and staff turnover may affect relationships between the child and primary caregiver.
  • There may be communication gaps due to multiple caregivers.


Home-based care is a form of child care in which providers care for children, often of different ages, in their own homes, or in the child's own home.

Licensed Family/Group Home Child Care: A family child care provider cares for up to 6 unrelated children in her home. A group provider has up to 12 children and must have an assistant if there are more than 6 children or more than 2 infants and/or 4 toddlers.

NAFCC for Parents -- What is Family Child Care?

In-Home Care: A provider is hired to care for the children of one or more families in a child's own home. This option includes au pairs and nannies.

Potential Advantages:
  • The setting is more home-like than a center.
  • Individualized care is more likely.
  • Parents and children can benefit from a sense of an extended family.
  • Siblings can be together, rather than in separate classrooms and playgrounds, during the child care day.
  • There are more opportunities for multi-age interaction.
  • Continuity and bonding with the same primary caregiver is possible.
  • A home may be more flexible in caring for children with minor illnesses.
  • A home may accommodate a parent's need for longer or unusual hours, or care during emergencies.
Potential Challenges:
  • Provider may work alone, unobserved by others. Long hours may cause stress and fatigue.
  • Handling emergencies can be more difficult if only one adult is available.
  • Provider illness or emergencies can leave a parent without child care unless a backup is planned.
  • Provider may not have the resources or expertise to provide an age appropriate environment for several different age groups.
  • Inexperienced providers may go out of business or quit after a short time.


For more information, feel free to call 734-763-9379.

Portions reprinted with the permission of Child Care Network