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The Right Place

About Us

Where your child spends their day is one of the most important decision to make.

The Nebraska Health and Human Services System is committed to helping parents find the best information on locating quality child care and child care resources in their community. Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education and the Early Childhood Training Center, builds consumer awareness and supports families in making choices for the care and education of their children.

Finding The Right Place

It can seen so overwhelming when trying to find child care. Start early so you can locate the child care program that will be the best fit for your child and you. Get all the information you need to make the right decision. Let's take it one step at a time. Click on each colored ribbon below to learn more.

Types of Licensed Child Care

Family Child Care Home I:

  • Program is in the home of the provider;
  • maximum capacity is eight children of mixed ages and two additional school age children during non-school hours;
  • Provide care to four babies if providing infant care ONLY.

Family Child Care Home II:

  • Program in the home of the provider or another site;
  • maximum capacity is twelve with two providers.

Child Care Center:

  • Program licensed for at least 13 children;
  • Child care centers can be located in the residence of the provider or in any other approved location.

Preschool:

  • Preschools are programs that provide primarily educational services where children do not nap and are not fed a meal.
  • Preschools can be located in the residence of the licensee or in any other approved location.
  • Preschools that are operated by a school system are not required to be licensed.

School Age Only Center:

  • School Age Only Centers are programs that care for 13 or more children who are in or have attended school.
  • School Age Only centers can be located in the residence of the provider or in any other approved location.
Nebraska Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure: 1-800-600-1289

 

    Staff-to-Child Ratio
    You want your child to get a lot of attention so ask how many children for each adult. Below is the Nebraska Regulations for each type of child care.
    Family Child Care Home I

    1. Infants only. If the program provides care to infants only, the following ratios apply:

    Number of Infants in Care

    Number of Staff Required

    4
    1
    5-8
    2

    2. Mixed ages. If the program provides care to children of mixed ages, the following ratios apply:

    Number of Children in Care

    Number of Staff Required

    1-8
    1
    9-10
    (9th and 10th children must be school-age)
    1
    a. Programs serving children of mixed ages of may provide care for up to three infants if no more than two of the infants are under 12 months of age.
    b. Programs may provide care for up to two additional school-age children during non-school hours if no more than two of the other children in care are under 18 months of age.

    3. School-age only. If the program provides care to school-age children only, the following ratio applies:

    Number of Children in Care

    Number of Staff Required

    1-10
    1

    Family Child Care Home II

    1. Infants only. If the program provides care to infants only, the following ratios apply:

    Number of Infants in Care

    Number of Staff Required

    4
    1
    5-8
    2
    9-12
    3

    2. Mixed ages. If the program provides care to children of mixed ages, the following ratios apply:

    Number of Children in Care

    Number of Staff Required

    1-10
    1
    11-12
    2

    a. Programs serving children of mixed ages may provide care for up to three infants if no more than two of the infants are under 12 months of age.
    b. Programs serving ten children with one staff are limited to two infants and the ninth and tenth children must be school-age.

    3. School-age only: If the program provides care to school-age children only, the following ratio applies:

    Number of Children in Care

    Number of Staff Required

    1-12
    1
    Child Care Centers

    The center must maintain accurate staff and daily attendance records to verify compliance with staff-to-child ratios. Compliance with staff-to-child ratios is determined on a center-wide basis.

    Only staff involved in the direct care of children are counted. The appropriate staff-to-child ratios must be met at all times, as follows.

    Age of Children Number of Chidren in Care Number of Staff Required
    6 weeks to 18 months
    4
    1
    18 months to 3 years
    6
    1
    3 years
    10
    1
    4 and 5 years
    12
    1
    School-age
    15
    1

     

    Preschools

    The preschool must maintain accurate staff and daily attendance records to verify compliance with staff-to-child ratios. Compliance with staff-to-child ratios is determined on a preschool-wide basis.

    Only staff involved in the direct care of children are counted. The appropriate staff-to-child ratios must be met at all times, as follows.

    Age of Children Number of Chidren in Care Number of Staff Required
    3 years
    10
    1
    4,5, and 6 years
    12
    1
    3 years
    10
    1
    School-Age Only Centers

    The center must maintain accurate staff and daily attendance records to verify compliance with staff-to-child ratios. Compliance with staff-to-child ratios is determined on a center-wide basis. Only staff involved in the direct care of children are counted. The following staff-to-child ratio must be met at all times.

    Age of Children Number of Chidren in Care Number of Staff Required
    School-age
    15
    1
 

Finding Safe and Healthy Child Care

Visit

Visit at least 3 different child care programs before making a choice. The program needs to be the best fit for you and your child:

    • Telephone several programs to find out hours, fees, and then set time for a visit.
    • Ask around and get recommendations from other parents.
    • Ask for Parent references from the Child Care provider.
    • Drop in un-announced and ask for a tour.
    • When you visit, notice the children. Are they happy.
    • What are they learning.
    • Are there books available for children.
    • Are the toys age appropriate, and can the children reach them.
    • Notice if children are greeted when they come in.
    • Is the child care bright and inviting.
    • Find out if the child care has been accreditation by a national organization.
    Ask
    • Ask to see their license. It should be in a place that can easily be seen.
    • Ask about what training they have had in child development.
    • Do they have training in CPR and First Aid.
    • If the child care is in a home, ask who else lives there.
    • Ask what type of discipline is used in the program.
    • Is there a Parent Handbook.
    • Can you drop in anytime.
    • Are they insured.
Look for Safety
    • Look around to make sure the place is safe.
    • Are cleaning supplies and other toxic substances put in a safe place where children can not get to them.
    • Is there an emergence plan in place.
    • Are play areas safe.
    • Can caregivers see the entire play area.
    • Is the yard fenced in.
    • Are emergency numbers easy to locate and easy to read.
    • Are there fire and tornado drills practiced.
    • Is the front door secure. What is the policy for visitors? Is there a check in policy?
    • Are the toys appropriate for the age of the child.
    • Ask to see any sanitation and fire inspection reports.
    • Is there a first aid kit available.
    • Are there fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Are exits marked.
    • Are cribs safe.
Look for Cleanliness
    • Do the child care providers wash their hands often. Especially after changing diapers.
    • Are diaper changing surfaces cleaned after each use.
    • Are wet and soiled diapers properly stored and disposed of.
    • Are eating surfaces clean.
    • Children's hands are washed after bathroom use.
    • Is there a sandbox if so, is it clean.
    • Are the toys clean.
    • The food preparation area should be clean and smell clean.
    • Check the bathrooms to see if they are clean and smell clean.
Activities
    • What activities are planned for the day. Is there a schedule?
    • Are diaper changing surfaces cleaned after each use.
    • Are wet and soiled diapers properly stored and disposed of.
    • Are eating surfaces clean.
    • Children's hands are washed after bathroom use.
    • Is there a sandbox is so, is it clean.
    • Are the toys clean.
    • The food preparation area should be clean and smell clean.
    • Check the bathrooms to see if they are clean and smell clean.

For more information on choosing a safe and healthy child care setting, contact your Child Care Resource and Referral staff at 1-800-89-CHILD

Finding Help Paying for Child Care

There are several financial resources including government assistance, private scholarships, and tax credits that may help pay for child care, depending on your eligibility.

  1. Nebraska Child Care Subsidy

    The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can help with the cost of chid care (called achild care subsidy).

    Your gross income (income before any deductions are subtracted) is used to calculate your eligibility. Both earned income (e.g. wages) and unearned income (e.g. child support, Social Security payments, Unemployment Insurance, etc.) are counted.

  2. Consider all options.
    Community Support:

    Ask community or faith-based organization if they provide child care scholarships. When you visit a child care program as if they offer scholarships, discounts or a sliding fee.

    Employer/College Support:

    Ask your employer (or college, if you are a student) if they provide child care scholarships. They may offer discounts to certain programs, or on-site child care.

    Early Childhood Programs:

    In Nebraska, there are Center-based early childhood education programs that are operated by school districts or Educational Service Units (ESUs). These programs may choose to operate a half day program or a full day program.

    Districts and ESUs determine the enrollment priorities for the early childhood education program. Enrollment priorities give first enrollment rights to children who are most at-risk and most in need of early childhood education programs and services. These include:
    Children whose family income qualifies them for participation in the federal free or reduced lunch program;

    • Children who reside in a home where a language other than spoken English is used as the primary means of communication;
    • Children whose parents are younger than eighteen or who have not completed high school; and
    • Children who were born prematurely or at low birth weight as verified by a physician.

Once children who meet one or more of the enrollment priorities have a secured spot in the early childhood program, enrollment can be open to other children within the community.

Head Start and Early Head Start:

Head Start focuses on delivering high quality child development programs while encouraging parents and guardians to become more involved in their child's learning. Head Start staff establish partnerships with parents and assist in identifying community support services. Parents also have the opportunity to participate in the operation, governance, and evaluation of local Head Start programs.

Federal Child Tax Credit (CTC):

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a federal tax credit for low and moderate income families with dependent children under the age of 17. This tax credit may be worth hundreds of dollars depending on your income.

For more information: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Ten-Facts-about-the-Child-Tax-Credit

Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit:

If you pay someone to care for your child, age 12 or younger, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return.

For more information: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Ten-Things-to-Know-About-the-Child-and-Dependent-Care-Credit

Nebraska Child/ Dependent Care Credit:

Nebraska offers their own Earned Income or Child and Dependent Care tax credits.

Nonrefundable: If your income is higher than $29,000.

Refundable Credit: If you income is $29,000 or less.

For more information: http://www.revenue.nebraska.gov/

Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP's):

Your employer may offer a DCAP, which allows you to have money (up to $5,000 a year) taken out of your paycheck tax-free and put into an account to be used for child care.

The main purpose of this type of program is to help you lower the amount of taxes you have to pay during the year. You also can't claim any money you put in a DCAP for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are available throughout Nebraska to assist in tax preparation. Call 1-800-906-9887 or go to http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ , then type in your zip code to locate VITA Sites in your area.

Special Needs

Look for:

  • Staff that are happy to accommodate your child.
  • Staff who understand your child's needs, both medically and emotionally.
  • Setting accessible to your child. Are books and toys within reach. Check the bathroom to see if it works and meets your child's needs.

This brochure provides parents with important factors to consider when choosing quality child care for a child with special needs. A sample checklist is included.

View PDF Version

Additional Resources and Web Sites

Nebraska Health and Human Services - Child Care Subsidy
dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Child-Care-Subsidy.aspx

Nebraska Department of Education
www.education.ne.gov

Nebraska Early Childhood Training Center
www.education.ne.gov/oec/ectc.html
1-800-89-CHILD

Nebraska Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure (Child Care Licensure)
dhhs.ne.gov/licensure/Pages/Child-Care-Licensing.aspx
1-800-600-1289

Nebraska Head Start State Collaboration Office
www.neheadstart.org/

Child Care Bureau
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ccb/

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
www.naeyc.org

National AfterSchool Association
www.naaweb.org

Zero to Three
www.zerotothree.org

The Finding Right Place Checklist


Staff

Staff are happy to see you and your child.
Staff can tell you about your child's day.
Staff shows attention to your child and gets down on their eye level.
Staff are trained in CPR, first aid and early childhood education.
Staff is more than happy to answer your questions.
Parents are encouraged to participate in activities when they can and are willing to have parents observe.
There is enough staff to meet the required staff-child ratio.

Setting

When you walk in you hear happy children
The setting is safe and clean.
There is a fenced-in outdoor play area. Play equipment is safe.
All medication, poisons, cleaners, weapons and ammunition are stored where children can not get to them.
Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and exits are clearly marked.

Activities

There is a schedule of activities.
The activities are right for each age group.
Toys and learning materials are right for each age group, and there are enough for all children.
Toys are clean, safe and children can reach them.
If offered, transportation is provided using appropriate car seats and/or safety restraints.
Staff wash their hands often. Especially after changing diapers, meal times and snacks.
Meals and snacks are well balanced and nutritious. Water is available at all times.
Watching television is kept to a minimum. Programs on TV are appropriate for children.

General

You agree with the discipline used in the program.
The program is licensed.
Your child will be safe and happy at the childcare program.
References are available to check.
You have visited the program with your child. Parents can visit at any time.
All policies, have been discussed or in a parents handbook. Make sure you agree with policies such as payment, drop off, holidays, and illnesses
To file a complaint about licensing regulations contact the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Regulation and Licensure, 1-800-600-1289
You feel good about the childcare when you visit.

Child Care Services

Compare child care services

Finding quality childcare can be a major parenting challenge. Our chart helps you find, compare and contrast Nebraska childcare, daycare and preschool centers based on cost, capacity, age range and more.

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Center on Children Families and the Law - University of Nebraska-Lincoln 206 S. 13th St. Suite 1000
Lincoln, NE 68588-0227 - Phone: 800-746-8420 - Tollfree: 402-472-0844 in Lincoln
Answers4Families  Nebraska Department Health and Human Services  Center on Children Families and the Law
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