My perspective: What to look for in a child care center and how to make it affordable

Editor’s note: My Perspective is an occasional series asking subject matter experts their thoughts on different educational topics. In this edition, Annette Cacicedo, director of Kids Learning Center of South Dade, talks about what to look for in child care centers and ways to make it affordable for lower-income families.

Annette Cacicedo has been working at Kids Learning Center of South Dade in Miami for 17 years. Now the program’s director, she’s dealt with so many parents who asked so many questions that she is certain about this:

“Ninety-five percent of parents, I would say, have no idea what they would qualify for (financially) and don’t have any idea of what (financial assistance) really is out there,” she said. “They might see signs, advertisements, but are not really sure what is being advertised.”

Childcare is not cheap. According to the Center for American Progress, a Washington D.C. based think tank for economic and social issues, it can cost nearly 10% of a family’s income. For low-income families, the cost can climb to nearly 30% to 35%. For some families, that’s virtually unaffordable. Yet, families in Florida have access to it, thanks to a number of financial assistance programs.

While Step Up For Students does not service preschool-age children, except in some cases with the Gardiner Scholarship Program for children with certain special needs or unique abilities, we know that many families learn about our programs through these facilities or come from those and use a scholarship at our partner schools and more.

So, we thought we’d ask an expert on how anyone can afford preschool and what to look for when searching for one for your child. That’s where Cacicedo comes in.

When researching childcare centers (more on that later), make sure to inquire about financial options.

Many parents arrive at Kids Learning Center of South Dade with some idea of what to expect, Cacicedo said, thanks to word-of-mouth referrals and the information available on social media. After giving parents a tour of the facility, Cacicedo asks the most important question: How will you pay for this? If the parents don’t know, she directs them to outlets that provide financial assistance.

Each serves children from birth to age 5 so the child can receive an early learning system.

The Florida Department of Children and Families website has a section for choosing a child care provider with a link to help parents find one in their area. The Early Learning Coalition shares the same link on its website.

Some childcare centers, like Kids Learning Center of South Dade, located in a low-income area in Miami, also have elementary and middle school programs. Cacicedo said her program has the capacity of serving 213 children from birth to eighth grade (in its Eureka location), with 80 children currently enrolled in the preschool program.

For those parents seeking financial aid to attend her elementary or middle school, Cacicedo tells them about the two scholarships for private schools, managed by Step Up For Students.


While paying for childcare is critical, it is equally as important to find a center or program that you can trust. To accomplish that, you have to do your homework.

Research should include recommendations from parents. Social media is a good place to start, since parents and guardians share information about childcare services on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You should interview the center and ask plenty of questions, like these. Next, set up a visit to the center and look to see if the children and staff seem happy, are they interacting, what measures are taken to ensure the safety of the children and is it a clean and healthy environment.

Then, stop by unannounced to see if everything is the same as when they knew you were coming for a visit.

You can turn to the Florida Department of Children and Families for more guidance.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Eli Richardson

It’s great that you talked about researching your preschool options before choosing one. Recently, my sister mentioned she wants to find a daycare for her kids. My sister says they’re old enough to attend preschool, and she needs to get back to work, so I’ll be sure to share your tips with her. Thanks for the advice on child care centers and what to consider when touring one.

Taylor Hicken

I appreciated it when you shared that it is important to make sure to inquire about financing options when looking for a child care center. My friend just mentioned the other day that she is worried about her son who is unable to mingle with kids yet since he has been staying at home for too long. I will suggest to her sending him to a reliable child care center and inquire regarding any financing options.

Rachel Frampton

If I were to leave my son in the daycare, I would make sure to look for a licensed facility. Thank you for sharing here as well the importance of asking the teachers regarding their experiences. I also agree with you that it would be smarter to interview the prospective center.

Mia Evans

Thanks for pointing out that it is critical to find an early learning center we can trust and afford. I hope that I can find one near me so that I can take my 4-year-old son there. I actually need it as well because I will be away from morning until afternoon most of the time, so I need a place where I can leave him and learn at the same time.

Henry Killingsworth

I appreciate the tips about finding a trustworthy daycare. My wife and I need to find a daycare center for our two children. A trustworthy daycare service will ensure that our kids are in good hands.

child care centre Springfield

A daycare center offers a more affordable and reliable option, with trained and certified staff and a social environment for your child.

rachel frampton

If I were to leave my son to a child care service that will take care of her son while she’s at work. Thank you for sharing here as well the importance of checking the facility’s curriculum. I also agree with you that it would be smarter to interview the staff too.

Rachel Frampton

My sister would like to look for a child care facility because she’ll have to work, and no one will take care of her son. Well, it’s a good thing that you suggested this, at least now I’m aware that it will be smarter to compare the prices first. Thank you for sharing here as well that it will help if she’ll check out their websites.

Rachel Frampton

My sister would like to look for a child care center where she can leave her son while she’s working. I also agree with you that it will be best to check the facility first. Aside from this, you made a pretty good point that it’s wiser to consider the space’s size.

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