Start Your Child Care Search

Thank you for contacting Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas regarding your child care needs. We hope that you find the information included on this website helpful in your search for child care. For a list of facilities that provide chchildild care in the 785 area code, please don’t hesitate to call us at 785-357-5171 or toll free at 1-877-678-2548. Our call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Referral Counselors are on staff to assist you in finding a list of programs to suit your child care needs.

Please note that our staff do not personally interview or screen child care providers. It is the responsibility of the family to research all options, check references and select the best care for their child. The names you receive are referrals only, not recommendations. All services to parents are at no cost and all information shared is confidential. If you prefer to do your own search or must have information outside of our normal business hours, you may begin an online search here. If you wish to update your records with us, simply call 785-357-5171 in Topeka, 877-678-2548 toll free, or email us at

Choosing High-Quality Care

What Determines High-Quality Care?

When considering a child care setting, parents naturally are looking for a warm and nurturing caregiver. But, equally important are two other types of measures that also indicate a high-quality environment.

The first is the process – what goes on in the program, their procedures, activities and so on. The second is the structure – the physical environment, the number of providers and teachers and children, and the safety features. Both are equally important. When you are considering a child care program, whether it is center-based or a family child care home, here are some questions that you could ask the programs (and yourself) that would help determine if the program provides high-quality care:

• What kind of program is provided?
• Do they follow a curriculum?
• How many children are in care?
• What is the ratio of staff-to-children?
• If it is a center, how are the children grouped?
• How long has the facility been licensed?
• What kind of training and certification does the child care staff have?

Parents want their children in a safe environment, with a “warm” caregiver, in a program that provides lots of activities and learning opportunities for their children. All of these qualities are part of an engaging and appropriate setting that many parents consider when choosing child care.

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Regulated Care

All facilities that provide child care are regulated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and local health departments serving each county.

Before selecting a child care facility, parents are strongly urged to complete a provider compliance history check. You can perform a Child Care Licensing Program Online Facility Compliance Search through the KDHE at  

The following is a list of requirements for regulated child care. This is not meant to be a complete listing of all regulations. For additional information, contact the local health department that serves your county. You can also call us at 785-357-5171 in Topeka or 1-877-678-2548 toll free for the phone number of your local health department.

Family Child Care

Family child care is typically offered in the provider’s home or residence. There are two types of family child care homes – licensed and group licensed.

A licensed family child care provider must complete an annual licensing renewal application and have an annual on-site inspection visit, which may also include a fire inspection. Additionally, licensed providers must:

• Attend first aid training.

• Maintain health records on all children and adults in the home, including up-to-date immunizations. 

•Submit an annual Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and Department for Children and Families, formerly Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), background check on all adults at the facility. 

• Provide documentation of professional development that meets the state’s requirements (15 hours initially and five clock hours annually for renewal).

The capacity of the provider is indicated on their license, which should be posted, and depends on the space in the home and the ages of children in care:

child care capacity

A group licensed family child care provider must meet all of the same requirements and, depending on the ages and numbers of children in care, often requires the presence of another qualified teacher/provider.

People in the process of becoming licensed to do family child care may be issued a temporary permit, valid for 90 days. Typically, a person with a temporary permit has attended an orientation session, submitted their written application to KDHE, and passed the Department for Children and Families and KBI registry. They may not have yet had their inspection visit and may still have corrections to complete before receiving a permanent license. A provider with a temporary license must follow all of the same regulations, including license capacity.

Child Care Centers

A child care enter must meet the same criteria as licensed homes, but can provide are for 13 or more children. Staff qualifications may include a combination of educations, experience and training.

Listed below are maximum teacher/child ratios per classroom for each age group:

group size max

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Cost of Child Care

The cost of child care will vary, depending on the age of your child, the activities of the program, the education of the provider, and the physical location of the facility. To view a document outlining the average, you are encouraged to contact a Referral Counselor at Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas for detailed information regarding costs in your specific area by calling 785-357-5171 in Topeka (option 1), 1-877-678-2548 toll free (option 1), or by email.

Financial Assistance

Kansas Department of Children & Families, formerly SRS – The Department of Children & Families (DCF) has funding available to help income-eligible families pay for child care in a regulated facility or by relative or in-home caregivers. You can call them toll-free at 1-888-369-4777 or visit for more information. 

Local Assistance – Some communities have programs to help families pay for child care. Ask us about scholarships available in your area.  Douglas County Assistance       Riley County Assistance

Government Assistance – You may be entitled to an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, or both. Information is available at or by calling 1-800-829-1040.

Military Subsidies – You may qualify for child care subsidy assistance if you are:

• Active Duty (Army, Marines Corps, Navy, and Air Force) military family.
• Active Duty National Guard (AGR) serving under Title 10 or Title 32, United States Code (U.S.C.) military families are eligible.

For information on how to apply, click here.

Head Start  –  Head Start is a Federal program for preschool children from low-income families. The Head Start program is operated by local non-profit organizations in almost every county in the country. Children who attend Head Start participate in a variety of educational activities. They also receive free medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting. To learn about applying, click here.

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5 Steps to Finding the Right Program

1. Explore.

Know your options! Choose the child care setting that best meets your family’s needs. Call us at 785-357-5171 in Topeka, 877-678-2548 toll free, for your customized referral list.

2. Evaluate.

Consider your preferences. For example, think about the individual learning style of your child (does he/she prefer small groups or large groups?), your family needs, the location and the hours of care.

3. Observe.

Visit at least three programs before making your final decision. Interview prospective providers and talk to everyone who will be involved in your child’s care. Plan to spend at least 30 to 60 minutes at each interview. Ask about the program specifics such as daily activities and schedules, discipline methods, meal service, fees and contracts. Ask how long the children in the group have attended the program (high turnover of families can be a “red flag”) and request references from a current and past client families. Take your child with you to see if the program is a good fit for him or her. Pay attention to any uneasy feelings you may have. To help guide you through the interview process, use this checklist.

4. Decide.

Refer to your checklist and notes to make your decision, but most of all, trust your instincts. Keep in mind that expensive care does not always guarantee the best program for your child and less expensive care does not necessarily mean a poor program. If you have questions about child care business practices or would like additional referrals, call Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas.

5. Follow Up.

You have the right to visit your child’s early care and education program any time your child is there. Making such visits is one way to monitor the quality of care your child is receiving. If you have serious concerns about the health and safety of the program, contact the local child care licensing department immediately. Remember, you have the final responsibility for your child’s care and have the right to change providers whenever you are concerned about your child’s well-being or happiness.

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Successful Child Care Search

The interview and selection process is unique for every parent and child care provider. Suggestions to help you make the best decision possible and establish a lasting partnership with your provider are listed below:

Top Ten Tips from Parents

1. Child care is a profession. Find out how long teachers have been providing care and what are their long-term career goals.

2. Keep all scheduled appointments when interviewing or meeting with providers. If you need to cancel, call.

3. There is a correlation between education and high-quality child care. When interviewing, ask the provider how many hours of training she has attended. Find out if the provider has earned a national credential (CDA) or national accreditation.

4. References should be provided upon request. It is your responsibility to interview the references.

5. Make sure you read and agree to the provider’s contract and policies. Keep a copy for your records. If you feel that the provider is not adhering to her own policies, mention it. Small issues can become big issues quickly.

6. Pay on time. Your child care provider is operating a business and depends on you.

7. You will need the provider’s tax I.D. number for file taxes. It is the parent’s responsibility to ask for this information. If needed, we can supply you with a copy of the W-10 form requesting the information you need from the provider.

8. Pick up your child on time. If an emergency prevents you from being on time, call.

9. Plan to visit your child at the facility often and unannounced to see what goes on throughout the day. Notify the health department in your county of any child care situation where you believe the children are at risk.

10. Communicate openly with your provider about your child and his/her progress, as well as any concerns you may have. Look for opportunities to get involved. Working together is key to making the partnership work!

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Final Checklist

You can click here to print off a checklist and take it with you when you interview prospective programs.

Interview questions for the provider:

1.   Are you licensed by the state of Kansas? The capacity of the provider is indicated on their license, which should be posted, and depends on the space in the home and the ages of children in care.

2.   What is the adult-to-child ratio? When working with groups of children, it is important that the level of supervision is appropriate to their age group and their needs. In general, younger children need to be more closely supervised and will require a higher adult-to-child ratio. A smaller group size can be an indicator of better supervision and higher quality care. 

3.   How long have you been providing care? Reliable, stable and consistent care-givers are important in the development of children. It is best if children have the same caregiver at least a year.

4.   May I see the latest Notice of Survey Findings? This document will show the results of the latest inspection by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. 

5.   What child development training do you have? Is there a substitute or assistant? What are their credentials? Is everyone certified in CPR and Pediatric First Aid? Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn.

6.   How do you supervise the children? How often are children checked on while napping? Where will infants sleep? Children need to be actively supervised at all times, even when the children are sleeping (a child care provider must be able to both see and hear infants while they are sleeping).

7.   What types of learning activities are in your daily routine? A daily schedule should be followed that has a balance of active and quiet activities, with activities that are age-appropriate.  The facility should have enough games, puzzles, blocks, dress-up clothes, books and other materials to allow children to select activities that interest them.

8.   How do you encourage creativity and build self-esteem in children? Interactions between the provider and children should be warm and positive. Children should be treated with respect and valued as individuals. 

9.   Do you have a policy handbook? The handbook should include these things: a discipline policy, emergency plans for fire and tornado, a policy about sick children, and handling accidents or injuries. The contract should include: payment rates, schedule when payments are due, termination policy, hours of operation, the names of the children to be cared for, and a space for both parent and provider to sign. Disciplinary methods should be consistent and acceptable. A copy of the discipline policy should be posted and given to families in writing.

10.  How do you partner with families? There could be family nights, conferences or volunteering opportunities. The facility should allow you to visit your child at any time and should be accepting of your family’s cultural values.

11. What activities do you provide outdoors? The outdoor play area should be safe, with space for the children to play freely.

12.  What steps can you take to keep my child healthy and safe? Poisons, medications, guns and other dangerous substances should be locked up. All children and adults in the child care facility should wash their hands frequently. There should be no smoking in the facility during business hours. Look for working smoke detectors and see that electrical outlets are covered.

13.  Do you have a menu I can see? Nutritious, balanced meals should be prepared, served and      stored in a safe manner. Foods that can cause choking should not be served.  

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Credentials & Accreditation

Research clearly shows that education and specialized training in early childhood practice positively impacts the quality of an early learning program. Ask about the teacher’s credentials.

The National Child Development Associate (CDA) program credentials qualified teachers who work with children birth to age 5. Teachers who earn a CDA complete:

• Hands-on experience with a specific age group.
• Formal child development training and education.
• Observations by a qualified advisor.
• A professional resource file.
• Gathering of parent questionnaires.
• An oral interview and written test.

Accreditation is a stamp of quality that means a program meets nationally recognized guidelines for high-quality early care and education. Child care centers may be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Family child care providers may be accredited through the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). School-age programs may be accredited through the National School Age Care Alliance (NSACA).

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Kansas Quality Improvement Rating System

What is KQRIS?

The Kansas Quality Rating Improvement System (KQRIS) is a 5-Star quality rating system for child care centers, preschools, Head Start facilities, faith-based preschool programs and family child care homes. Participating child care programs receive a comprehensive assessment that results in a 1- to 5-Star Quality Rating (5 Stars is the highest possible rating). Assessment is followed with on-site technical assistance to help the program make strategic improvement to overall quality.

KQRIS participants receive a variety of supports to assist in quality improvement efforts. Child care programs have access to a Quality Improvement (QI) Coach who can help the program set and achieve goals to make program improvements. Participants are eligible for quality improvement grants that can be used to purchase materials, equipment or pay for accreditation fees that will improve overall program quality. Staff/providers in participating KQRIS sites are eligible for college scholarships (through T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® KANSAS) and salary supplements (through Child Care WAGE$® KANSAS).

Service Areas

KQRIS is currently available in selected communities across Kansas; Child Care Aware® of Kansas continues to advocate for funding to make KQRIS available in all communities across the state. Child Care Aware® of Eastern Kansas currently offers KQRIS in Douglas county. 

KQRIS Rating Components

KQRIS measures quality in five key areas and assigns points based on quality level of each component. Those points are then added together and an overall Quality Rating score is assigned (Star Rating). Download this document to learn more about the quality rating score.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should a child care program participate in KQRIS? How is a program rated in KQRIS? Who provides the KQRIS services? For answers to these and many other questions about the Kansas Quality Rating Improvement System, please visit Child Care Aware® of Kansas.

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Child Care Aware®

Join the Child Care Aware® Parent Network for free and have access to family-friendly publications, child care search tools, glossary of child care terms, budgeting assistance, videos and connect with a national network of other parents and families.