DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- When looking for childcare, many parents turn to in-home daycare centers, but it can be hard to know if those centers are up to code.
Heidi Kieffer runs an in-home daycare center and watches four children on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. (Allison Wong, KCRG)
That's why one agency works to ensure all providers are registered through the state. The Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) helps in-home providers with registration.
Dubuque Supervisor Tara Roddick explains when people are registered, parents can be reassured checks are being done.
"That means that the Department of Human Services is coming in and checking on their emergency preparedness, checking on smoke detectors, those type of things," Roddick said.
In Iowa, people who provide in-home services to more than five children must register. However, even those with fewer than five are given the option to register. Roddick said it's a good thing to do.
“Parents can rest a little easier when they pick a registered provider, because they know there is an outside source coming in to check on them," Roddick said.
People may not register because they don't know how or they think it will be difficult and time-consuming.
"We really want to help people with the process, make it easy for them, because we do need childcare spots," Roddick said. "We want to help them as much as we can."
Heidi Kieffer has had a home center for three years. In her first year, she wasn't registered with the state.
"I just didn’t know a lot about it," Kieffer said. "I thought it was going to be a big hassle to get registered, and then when Cherie walked me through the process. It was super easy.”
Cherie, with CCR&R, can help make the process easier for any provider. Kieffer recommends everyone to get registered with the help of this organization.
"I would recommend anyone who is going to do in-home daycare to go through Child Care Resource and Referral," Kieffer said. "They will come to your house, they will help you set up, they will do your fingerprints for free, they will tell you all the programs, you can get grants.”
Kieffer also enjoys the checks she gets from DHS as a registered provider.
"I like it because then I know what I’m doing wrong, what I need to improve on," Kieffer said.
To be in compliance with state inspections, she has an emergency evacuation plan posted in her home, smoke detectors in each room, and she practices fire and tornado drills once a month. She feels her home is safer because of being registered, and she encourages others to take steps to become state-official.
CCR&R can also provide parents with a list of providers in their area and let them know who is registered. Call 877-216-8481 for information. For a full list of requirements for centers, click here.