Child Care Subsidy: Encouraging Clients to Choose Quality Child Care


  • Studies show that birth to age five is the most critical stage in a child’s growth and learning.
  • As much as 90% of the human brain develops in these early years.
  • Quality early learning experiences can build a foundation for success in school and later in life.
  • Research shows children living in poverty are less likely to be successful in school and less likely to be gainfully employed over their lifetimes.
  • Experiences in high quality child care settings can have especially profound impacts on low income children.


  • Fewer behavior problems
  • Strengthened school readiness
  • Greater thinking skills
  • Better attention skills
  • Higher achievement scores
  • Enhanced academic performance
  • Better relationships with peers


Parents should:

  • Call the toll-free Statewide Child Care Resource and Referral hotline at 1-800-438-0008 for English or (405) 525-8783 for Spanish Callers.
  • Visit the DHS Child Care Locator where parents may view the monitoring visit history for each provider.
  • Call for a time to visit each facility.

When visiting a provider, encourage your clients to ask questions!

Group Size: How many children are in the group that my child will be in?
Caregiver Qualifications: Ask about the caregivers’ training and education. Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn.

Turnover: How long have the current caregivers been there? Stability in caregivers may enhance the child’s development and sense of well-being.

Star Ratings: What is the provider’s star rating? All licensed homes and centers are rated from 1-5 stars. The higher the star level, the higher the quality of care.


One Star: These programs are licensed centers and homes that meet minimum requirements set by DHS.

One Star Plus: These programs meet additional quality criteria, which includes additional training, reading to children daily, parent involvement and program assessment.

Two Star: These programs meet the One Star Plus & additional quality criteria or are nationally accredited. These homes/centers offer providers/teachers who have formal education & additional training in child development. Their space is arranged for a variety of activities including block building, dramatic play, art, science, math, music/movement, and reading to children.

Three Star: These programs are nationally accredited in addition to meeting Two Star requirements.

Four Stars: Programs meet One, Two and Three Star criteria and additional quality criteria such as lesson plans that meet the interests and developmental needs for each child and providing regular program-wide activities that promote basic skills and higher-level thinking.

Five Stars: Programs meet One, Two, Three and Four Star criteria and additional quality criteria such as adding their choice of five or more program-wide practices which could include child and family orientation, daily playground safely checks, and working with schools (with parental permission) about children’s health and wellness.

Other high quality options for families not eligible for child care subsidy


  • for 4 year olds
  • follow a set of organization-created teaching standards in shaping curriculum and instructional activities/goals.
  • Free (through the public schools)
  • Universal in Oklahoma (but may fill up quickly depending on the school district)


  • The Head Start program (for three and four year olds) and Early Head Start program (birth to age three) promote school readiness for children in low-income families by providing comprehensive educational, health, nutritional, and social services
  • Both programs provide pre-literacy and literacy experiences in a multi-cultural environment
  • Family income must be at or below the US Poverty Income Guidelines
  • Funding is limited (may have waiting lists)
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