Step 3: References and Background Checks

The more information you know about a program before you start the better. Checking with child care licensing and calling parent references can give you a clearer picture of the program’s quality of care.


Call Licensing

It’s important to check a program’s licensing status before you make a decision. You can find information online by clicking here. You should also contact the licensing agency by phone.

For centers and preschool programs, call state licensing: 651-431-6500.

For family child care homes, contact the county licensing agency in which the child care professional lives:

  • Anoka: 763-323-6102
  • Carver: 952-361-1714
  • Dakota: 952-891-7400
  • Hennepin: 612-348-3883
  • Ramsey: 651-266-3781
  • Scott: 952-445-7751
  • Washington: 651-430-6455  

  Questions to Ask the Licensor

  • Have there been any complaints or negative action listed against the program?  If yes, what was the nature of the complaint(s)?
  • How long has the program been licensed?
  • When were background checks done?
  • Have the training requirements been completed?
  • How many children can the program have in its care?
  • Is there anything else you can tell me about this program?


Call Parent References

Another way to learn more about a program is to find out how the program is working for someone else.  Ask the program you are considering for at least three parent references.  Here is a way to start a conversation with a parent reference.

Introduce yourself:  "My name is _____.  I am considering _____for child care.   She gave me your name as a reference.  Would you have a few minutes to answer some questions?"

Suggestions for Questions:

  • What do you like best about the program?
  • What does your child like about going to this program?
  • What concerns, if any, do you have about the program?
  • How do you get information about your child’s day?
  • Have there been any unexpected policy changes (fees, hours, etc.)?
  • Do you feel this program is reliable?
  • What would you like to change about this program?
  • Would you recommend this program?