Unlicensed vs. Licensed: Finding the Right Daycare For Your Child

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The recent death of Owen Skodje, found unresponsive at an unlicensed daycare earlier this week, sparked conversation about finding the right provider for your child.

Cass County Family Services says there are 500 licensed daycare providers in Cass County and plenty of unlicensed providers. The basic difference, unlicensed providers only can care for 5 kids including their own. Once you hit that number, you're required to get a license in North Dakota.

While licensors say check lists, regulations and unannounced visits, don't guarantee a better environment for your kids, it does hold providers accountable to meet certain standards.

Nokomis Child Care Center II in Fargo is licensed to take care of 100 kids at any one time. A process in Cass County that includes training, building inspection and finger printing providers for criminal background and child neglect.

"All of those things, make sure we meet standards that keep the children safe," says Jane Greminger, Program Director at Nokomis child care.

"I think there's some people who choose not to be licensed because they don't want other people in their home, or they don't want to do the training from year to year," says Ruby Kolpack, Cass County Child Care Licensing Specialist.

Experts at Cass County Family Services say there are many things parents should do beyond checking if a daycare center has a license.

"This is the most important thing in your life, you're looking for someone to help raise you're child, ask questions," says Kolpack.

Kolpack says there's three things she tells parents to ask a potential daycare provider, ask for references, do a few unannounced visits to the daycare to see what the routine is like and sit down with the provider so you can ask any questions you may have.

After you pick a daycare, ask your kids how its going and watch their reactions when you drop them off or pick them up.

Nokomis Child Care says it's more than finding a babysitter.

"We're setting them up to get ready for kindergarten, so they'll have a strong foundation to be set for life," says Greminger.

Another service parents in both North Dakota and Minnesota parents can use is, Child Care Aware. The group can help you find out if a daycare is licensed and has more information about picking out a provider.