Please upgrade your browser

Child Care Referrals


The Smart Start PUZZLES Center is a centralized service relating all parts of the child care delivery system — families, employers, employees, and early childhood professionals. PUZZLES provides information about choosing quality child care and a list of child care options in your area that will meet your needs. Counselors provide these services by phone and email and in person to meet individual family needs and preferences such as location, care for infants and toddlers, hours of operation and care for children with special needs. Feel free to call the Smart Start PUZZLES Center with any questions about young children.

Tips for Choosing Child Care

Start Early

Start looking as far in advance as you can. No matter what type of care you are considering – a child care center or family child care home – finding the right child care option can take some time.

Make a Call

Call the Smart Start PUZZLES Center. There are three ways for parents to receive free referrals to childcare:

  • You can call 1 (800) 653-5212 for CCR&R’s customized referral service.
  • You can call our office at (910) 815-3731.
  • You can receive referrals online by clicking here and clicking on the “receive referrals online” link

Visit and Ask Questions

Make sure you visit the child care sites you are considering. Learn about the key indicators of quality by reviewing the links below:

Finding Quality Childcare Guide

Checklist for visiting child care center and family child care home

Make a Choice

Think about what you saw at each visit, and make the best choice for your child and family.

Stay Involved

The work isn’t over when you find good care for your child. You and your child’s caregiver are now partners.

Here are some ways to be involved:

  • Have parent-teacher meetings regularly, and ask questions.
  • Offer to volunteer time when needed, like participating in clean up days, fixing broken toys.
  • Visit your child at child care and read a book aloud.
  • Join in special events, like field trips, Career Day, African American History Month, or other holidays.
  • Find out more about efforts in your community to improve the quality of child care. Is your caregiver involved in these activities?

Even if you can’t get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask the teacher how things are going, and how your child is doing.

Visiting and participating in events sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child’s caregiver that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.