UNION COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
P.O. BOX 489
MONROE, NORTH CAROLINA 28111
Margaret Hood, Chairman 1212 W. Roosevelt Boulevard
Barbara Liner, Vice Chairman Monroe, NC 28110
Pat Kahle Telephone (704) 296-4300
Nathel Hailey Fax (704) 296-6151
Barbara Liner D. Dontae Latson, Director
AN ACCREDITED AGENCY
Contact: Stephanie Leach
Union County DSS
How to Choose a Family Child Care Home in Union County
September 18, 2009, Monroe, NC - The days of mothers staying home to raise their children while
dads go to work are all but gone. Gone too are the days when grandma cared for her grandchildren when
mom and dad were at work. Families have also changed. Along with moms and dads raising their
children, we now have more single parent families, grandparents raising grandchildren, children raised
by other family members and children in foster care homes. Also gone are the days when we grew up
and stayed in the same community surrounded by family and friends who provided a strong support
So what does someone do when they move to a new community or go to work or school and are
suddenly faced with the dilemma of finding a safe haven for their children because they have no support
system to help?
Those who want their children to be in a home atmosphere are looking for a family child care home.
How could one explore the options available for family childcare?
First, call the Union County Department of Social Services at 704-296-6109 or visit DSS and talk with
the Union Smart Start Parent Counselor. The counselor can provide a list of licensed family child care
homes which shows their Star Rating from 1-5 with 5 being the highest level of care. The counselor can
also discuss what to look for in “quality care.” DSS child care information assistance is available to all
The N.C. Division of Child Development provides an excellent Web site (www.ncchildcare.net) where
parents or guardians can search for care, receive answers to many of their questions and get information
about any violations that may have previously and or currently exist in the home. They can also call 1-
800-859-0829 and ask questions, make reports, file complaints, and request information about becoming
a licensed home.
When looking for a child care home, visit several licensed homes in your area or in route to work. Take
children along to see how they interact with the caregiver. Ask the following questions:
• What is their experience working with children?
• How long have they been in business?
• What special training have they received?
• How do they discipline?
• What daily activities are planned?
• What types of food do they serve?
• How do they handle special needs such as a child with asthma or allergies?
• Who else lives in the home?
• What happens if there is an emergency and the caregiver has to leave or is unavailable?
• Look to see if the children in the home seem happy.
• How does the caregiver respond to the children and to your child?
• Look at their license and see how many children the home provider is licensed to care for.
The average number is five.
• Are there are any restrictions?
• Check References – Ask to speak with other parents who bring their children to the home
and parents whose children may have grown up in the family care home.
• Make random visits. See how they react to you popping in. Ask if you can call and check on
your child or join your child at lunch. Caregiver’s should welcome your visits and questions.
The state Division of Child Development suggests asking these questions:
• Is the home and play area clean and safe?
• How do you handle nap time?
• What is a typical day like in your home?
• What kind of flexibility do you have to accommodate a baby’s natural schedule regarding eating
habits and diapering needs?
• How do you handle discipline such as a two year old that bites?
• How do you handle homework for school age children?
• Do you care for sick children and do you administer medications?
• How do you communicate with parents about their child’s day?
• What activities are planned for play and learning that are age appropriate?
Why should someone looking for child care choose a licensed family child care home instead of an
unlicensed neighbor? If a caregiver is caring for more than two children who are not family members
and provide care for more than 4 ½ hours daily, they are required by law to license the home.
What is the importance of a child care license? A license is important as it provides a guide for parents
in choosing quality child care by indicating the levels of educational training and demonstrates that all
minimal safety and health standards have been met. North Carolina childcare system utilizes a star
based system to rate facilities. The ratings range from a rating of 1 to 5, with 5 offering the highest
quality of care. Union County presently has 33 licensed family home providers.
This is just a start to your quest to find a licensed quality family child care home. Other important Web
sites and contacts include:
• To report abuse and neglect, children in danger or left unsupervised, call Union County DSS at
• To make an appointment to see if you are eligible for child care assistance, call 704-296-4339
• To report a suspected unlicensed home call 1-800-859-0829
• Union Smart Start – Partnership for Children: call 704-226-1407 or www.unionsmartstart.org
More@ Four at 704-282-0580.
• Union County Sheriff’s listing of sex offenders (search for those in your neighborhood and your
provider’s) at http://sheriff.co.union.nc.us
• 123nc.com - $15.00 to run criminal record checks
• www.familywatchdog.us - search for predators in your neighborhood or provider’s
• www.cpsc.gov – for Consumer Product Safety Commission