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Child Care Resources

The Parent – Provider Partnership

Joan Sprain; Reviewed by Ronald L. Pitzer, Family Sociologist and Professor – Family Social Science

Revised July 2013 by Kathleen A. Olson, Program Director — Partnering for School Success.

Choosing and using child care is one of the most important tasks of parenting. Many parents experience feelings of guilt and anxiety with this experience. Understanding yourself and your expectations of your provider can help you build a positive partnership and reduce anxiety.

Look At Yourself First

The decision to have someone care for your child can challenge the attitudes, values, and decisions that you’ve made as a parent. For example, if you are unhappy with your job or your decision to work outside the home you may have a hard time feeling comfortable with your child care situation. You may resent your provider’s time with your child and choose not to develop a relationship with him or her. You could expect too little or too much from your child care provider because you wish you could provide full-time care for your child. Feeling satisfied with your decision to work outside the home will help you feel better about your decision to use child care.

If you are parenting with a partner, look at your relationship. Have you talked about your expectations regarding quality care? Who will take major responsibility for working with the provider or will it be shared? What will happen when your child or provider is sick? All of these expectations between partners need to be discussed up front. Confusion about who does what and different feelings about using child care will affect the parent-provider relationship.

Consider what you need from your provider. What are your beliefs regarding child care and parenting? How do you feel about pacifiers, infant feeding, toilet teaching, discipline, and education? What are the values you want your child to learn? How will you communicate these to your provider?

How do you want the provider to communicate with you? When do you want to be contacted if there’s a problem during the day? Determine how involved you can be in the child care experience. Do you want to be able to drop in? Do you want to get involved in center activities? Respect your child care provider as a professional. No matter how friendly you may become, remember, this is a business. Never ask your provider to break licensing rules, tax laws, or provisions of your contract to meet your needs. Pay on time. Pick up your child on time. Common courtesy is important. Keep in mind that you have a responsibility to keep your end of the bargain.

What You Can Expect from the Provider

There is no perfect provider just like there is no perfect parent. No provider will care for your child exactly as you would. When you choose child care, look for qualities that are the most important to you. Recognize that differences can add to your child’s experience. Here are some considerations on what to expect from your child care provider:

For Your Child

For the Parent


Halle, T., Anderson, R., Blasberg, A., Chrisler, A., & Simkin, S.  (2011). Quality of caregiver-child interaction for infants and toddlers (Q-CCIT): A review of the literature, OPRE 2011-25. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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