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Online Child Care Search

You will find the link to the online search page by clicking the photo to the left or by using the button at the bottom of this page. If you have any questions about the Illinois Cares for Kids Online Child Care Search call 217.525.2805 or 1.800.676.2805 (Option 1, Option 4).

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What Child Care Options Are Available?

Family Child Care

Some families choose for their child to be cared for in a home-like setting.  Family child care providers fulfill this need by offering care for children in their homes.

Licensed Family Child Care providers* may care for up to eight children (including their own), or up to 12 children with an assistant.

Licensed Family Child Care Group Home providers* may care for up to 16 children (including their own) with the help of a full-time assistant.

License-Exempt Family Child Care providers (such as Family, Friend and Neighbor care) may care for three or fewer children (including their own), or children from one family.
*Licensed family child care providers, and licensed family child care group home providers must meet Illinois Department of Children and Family Services standards for health and safety including, child to staff ratios and required space per child. 

Child Care Centers & Programs

Licensed Child Care Centers must meet Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) standards for health and safety including child to staff ratios and required space per child.Click below for staff to child ratios and maximum group sizes set by DCFS.

Child Care Centers provide care for groups of children outside of a residential setting.  Children are usually grouped by age.  Types of centers include: child care, Early Head Start/Head Start, State pre-kindergarten, preschools, school-age programs, and summer programs.

Licensed-Exempt Child Care Centers are also recognized by Illinois, such as those serving children 3 years and older and operated by public or private elementary or secondary schools, faith based organizations, institutions of higher education of other accredited schools registered with the Illinois State Board of Education.  Since these settings are not licensed they are not held to standards for health and safety, staff to child ratios or maximum group size set by DCFS.

What To Look For In Your Search For Quality Care:


Play & Learn

Quality Child Care offers many opportunities for all children to play each day.  Counting, reading skills and problem solving are just a few things learned through play.  

Helpful Tip: Look for a provider who focuses on all aspects of your child’s development including language, social, emotional, physical and cognitive.



There are different caregiver qualifications for different child care settings.  Training, education, experience and credentials prepare a child care provider to meet your child’s development needs.  

Helpful Tip: Request a provider’s qualifications and references to learn more about their child care experience.


Positive Interactions

A quality child care provider guides children, helping them to get along with others in caring positive ways, and encourages you to be involved as well.  

Helpful Tip: Look for a provider who is enthusiastic, attentive and encouraging.


Program Quality 

All licensed child care programs are part of the ExceleRateTM Illinois Quality Recognition and Improvement System (QRIS).  Programs can earn a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Circle of Quality or a national accreditation award by meeting voluntary standards for quality child care that are higher than the state licensing requirements.  

Helpful Tip: Ask the provider if their program has an ExceleRateTM Illinois Circle of Quality or is accredited.



A quality child care environment is safe, clean and provides children with many learning opportunities.  

Helpful Tip: Look for a setting where the children are supervised at all times, nutritious meals and snacks are served and where toys and learning activities are based on the age of the child.


Financial Assistance 

The Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Assistance Program provides financial help for families who meet income and work or education/training requirements.  

Helpful Tip: To find out if you qualify for help with your child care costs, click here.

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