Child Care Resource & Referral Services for Families

We offer families and the community FREE child care referrals and information about child care programs in Middlesex and Somerset counties.

Several long term studies have shown that children who attended high quality child care programs score better on academic tests in school and have fewer reports of acting out behavior. These results continue into the child’s teenage years. Learn more about what to look for when trying to find quality child care by using the links below or contacting our staff.

Choosing Quality Child Care

Quality child care is individual to each child and family. However, parents also have the opportunity to consider years of research in their child care decision. We have included some highlights in this pamphlet.


The physical environment is important to a child’s success; space should be adequate, divided into learning centers as well as quiet and reading spaces. Children should be able to move comfortably around in their space and toys and equipment should be durable, safe and age appropriate.

Health and Safety

Of primary importance to parents is their child’s health and safety. Child care programs should promote procedures that include hand washing and regular health exams of child and caregiver. Program policies should include: sick policy, emergency contacts, CPR and first aid training for staff, fire drills and daily sanitation. The entire environment should be child-proof, toys should be in good repair and sanitized daily. Equipment should be inspected regularly.


Children learn through everyday experiences. Activities should be varied and based on the age of the child. There should be a variety of materials available and caregivers should be flexible, creative and non-judgmental. Activities should include indoor/outdoor, noisy and quiet time. All activities should be driven by the needs of the child and not by the teacher.


A quality program includes parents as partners in the development of their child. A level of respect should be established between parent and caregiver where information is shared, standards are agreed upon and success is celebrated. Parents should treat their caregiver with respect, cooperation and consideration.

Caregiver Development

To provide quality care a caregiver should be committed to improving their skills through training. Staff stability also increases a child’s positive experiences in child care.

Finally, trust your instincts. You know your child and you know where they will be happiest. Ask a provider if they would allow you to bring you child to the program for a day and see how they fit in.

Choosing Child Care FAQ

Does the person who will be caring for your child regularly participate in trainings?

It is important that the provider have knowledge of CPR and first aide and that they participate in early childhood education training through the CCRR, colleges courses or other community programs.

How long has the caregiver been in the same program or providing child care in the home?

Consistency is very important to a child and they benefit from caregivers who have experience and stability.

Are just a few children being cared for by one caregiver?

Child care centers have set ratios for children to caregivers and Family Child Care Providers can care for no more than five children at one time.

If you are considering a more formal child care program, is it nationally accredited, and is it state licensed or registered?

The CCRR only refers to licensed child care centers and registered Family Child Care Providers. Accreditation is a voluntary process undertaken by providers to raise the quality of their program.

Does the caregiver welcome drop-in visits and parent ideas and involvement?

As long as you child is in care you should be welcome to drop-in unannounced at a child care program

Does the caregiver get on the children's eye level, and give them lots of attention and encouragement?

Children should be treated as individuals; they should be talked to with respect and listened to with interest.

Are there well-planned activities for children to do as well as lots of time for free play?

Children thrive on continuity, they learn through planned experiences and play is their job. Providers should have daily planned activities, free play, rest time and outdoor activities.

Are materials- such as books, blocks, toys, and art supplies- available to children all day long?

Materials and equipment should be within reach of children, should be age-appropriate, should be safe and creative play should be encouraged.

Is the program clean and safe, and is hand washing and other safety procedures a regular part of each day?

Health and safety procedures are an important part of a child care program. A child care program should be able to tell parents what their policies are concerning health and safety.

Does the caregiver have written policies and procedures, including emergency plans?

Ask you caregiver is they have written policies and procedures for issues like fire drills, contacting parents in an emergency, vacation, fees, etc.

Does the caregiver have references?

A child care program or provider should be able to provide you with personal or professional references and you should contact these references.

Referral FAQ

Can I get referrals at any time?

Our on-line referral service is available 24/7 for your convenience. A Child Care Specialist can be reached between 9AM and 4:30 PM in our Somerville or Perth Amboy offices.

Is there a charge for the service?

This is a free service for anyone seeking child care in Somerset or Middlesex counties.

What if I don’t live in either Middlesex or Somerset county?

You can access a list of other child care resources and referral services in the State or contact Child Care Aware for CCR&R services throughout the country. For a listing of all of the child care resource and referrals in the state of NJ please visit here.

What about confidentiality?

The questions we ask while helping you to find child care will only be used to assist you and gather statistics. No one else will have access to your private data at any time.