Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS

What is “Child Care Choices”? (and why is it important to know……)

Part of our job as family child care professionals is to support families in their search for care. There are multiple parts to this depending on whether we are supporting first time parents, families new to the community, maybe families with special care needs, or families that just cannot find care.

Whether you have openings or not, when you support a family in their care search you raise their view of the profession in general and your business specifically. In Maine, we are lucky to have a FREE site that we can direct families to. It only takes a message left on your business site, your answering machine or a minute for an in person answer for you to share this site.

All you need to do is send them to: and tell them to search by “Town”.

So how does Child Care Choices work?

Think of Child Care Choices as basically the state’s online database of all licensed programs that offer child care (family homes, centers, Head Start and nursery schools). It is maintained by Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network, in partnership with Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services.

The website offers much more than just the child care search tool. Families can learn about:
• The types of child care in Maine and resources to help in choosing a program that’s right for their needs
• Quality for ME – Maine’s quality rating and improvement system
• Child care licensing information
• Resources for families, including if you need help paying for child care

How does the “Search” tool work?

Search results are shown on a map and a list (can download). No matter whether families do a general search or filtered search, the program information, which is provided by the licensee, is listed. If no information then “n/a” is listed.
• Program name, address, and phone number
• Program type
• Step rating with Quality for ME
• Ages served
• Driving directions
• Licensing details

Every search starts with a general (unfiltered) search by one of these:
• Address and Distance, or
• City/Town, or
• Zip code

Example for Gorham. Town/City or Zip code are the easiest to search by for most families. Tip for address search: use home or business address and change up mileage distance for area you are willing to drive.

Families can further filter their search:
• Type of care (family child care or child care center)
• Step rating with Quality for ME
• Ages served

Example of Gorham filtered by program type and care – family & center and infant:

Big difference in the number of programs shown in the map and listed for the download between these 2 searches!

This difference has caused a good deal of confusion for both families and providers. Filtered searches are only done on Quality for ME programs. Unfiltered searches cover all programs in the database. (While the site is maintained, there will be times programs with expired licenses or under sanctions will still be listed.) Families can look under “Licensing Details” for more specific information on any program of interest to them.

As a licensee, if you want to always show up on a search there are 2 ways to ensure that:
• Have your program participate in QRIS – Quality for ME, or
• Tell families to search by “Town or Zip code” only. (Ensures unfiltered search results.)

  • Ok, you now understand how the searches are structured.
  • You know one value of being part of Quality for ME.
  • You know how to direct families to search, so all programs show up.
  • Now what about having the shared information on your program being current…….. (Openings are not able to be posted at this time)

Go to; search by town; find your listing and check the information provided there. If it’s all there and correct you are set. If not send the correct information by email to: 


FCCAM works to unify, promote and strengthen quality professional family child care in Maine. We understand the critical role of child care providers in the lives of children and families. Through collaboration with other organizations we work to increase awareness of our profession and the value of a strong child care system to Maine's diverse communities.