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 Human Services, Office of Child and Adult Licensing. 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 rules violations. A program's most recent state reports can be clicked-on and 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 (3-5 years old or more) are available via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the State of Michigan. You can request "the licensee's entire file and history for all past licenses" online, and those older reports will be mailed to your home so you'll be informed of any past violations before you make a decision.

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. In addition, Michigan now has a 5-star quality rating system, and you'll see stars listed for participating child care programs as you search online.


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