Where can I find DSS approved daycare in Missouri?

Three children playing with toys in DSS approved daycareIt’s no easy feat to find the right kind of care for your child when you’re not around. We may all want to be the one watching them and nurturing them all the time, but that’s simply not feasible when we have jobs to do and life to live. Or, maybe you run some kind of child care facility and you’re looking to become a DSS approved daycare. You’re sure your practices are great and up to date, and you’re looking for official recognition of how well you do your job.

We’re here to give you some insight. Whether you’re looking for a DSS approved daycare to send your children to or you’re just trying to find some information on how to comply with state guidelines, we’ve got the information you need, and if not, we can always point you in the right direction. After all, the Child Care Aware phone number is just one call away — but more on that later. Here, we’re going to talk about all the different aspects of what you might be looking for if you’re searching for DSS approved daycare. Spoiler alert: Everything is not what it seems, and we’ll have to cover a lot of different topics to try to get at the root of what you need.

Before we get into that, though, we need to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Let’s define some important terms.

What is DSS?

You can’t find DSS approved daycare if you don’t know what DSS means. So, we figured this is as good a place as any to start. You might decide to dial to the Child Care Aware phone number for more information, or you could just read on.

DSS stands for Department of Social Services. This is a government department within the state of Missouri that handles, you guessed it, social services. Those types of things include public assistance, health care coverage, child welfare services, and specialized assistance to troubled youth. Part of providing those services includes combating fraud, waste, and abuse within those programs. Audits of Medicaid and compliance initiatives are both parts of that secondary mission, as is supporting law enforcement efforts to protect children. 

If you’re curious about how DSS is set up and organized, we have answers for you, too. There’s a governor-appointed and state senate-approved director. The director is in charge of choosing division directors to work with them.

This is all true for the state of Missouri and not necessarily anywhere else. If you’re looking for an equivalent at the federal level, you’d be looking for the Administration for Children and Families, which is within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Note that we haven’t listed DSS approved daycare anywhere in our list of what they do. There’s a reason for that. Read on to find out if DSS approved daycare is even something you should be looking for. And if you need more information than we end up providing here, you can always call the Child Care Aware phone number or do some more digging on our site.

Where can I find a DSS approved daycare in Missouri?

Now that we all understand what the DSS is, we can talk about the central question at hand. As it turns out, there isn’t a list of DSS approved daycares in the state. In fact, the licensing procedures go through the Office of Childhood, which lives within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, not the Department of Social Services. Tricky, we know. 

So, while it might seem like the Department of Social Services is the place to go for DSS approved daycare, there’s no official channel for them to confer that designation. This means that if you see a child care facility claiming to be a DSS approved daycare, they’re not being completely truthful. Find the Child Care Aware phone number and see if they can help you find a reputable facility instead.

Two forms of child services that definitely fall under DSS approved daycare, though, are the Head Start and Early Head Start programs. We’ll go over both of those in the next section.

Head Start and Early Head Start

These programs might count as DSS approved daycare, but they are so much more than that. They are federal programs aiming to improve the lives of children who might not have as many resources. Since they’re federally run, they’re not technically something DSS approves either, but they do fall under the Administration for Children and Families, which we mentioned earlier. 

Head Start tends to be a little more well-known than Early Head Start. If you’ve heard of it, then you don’t need the Child Care Aware phone number to call and ask what it is — you already know that it’s a program offering free preschool and other support for families that fall at or below the federal poverty line. Early Head Start is very similar. It serves infants and children up to age 3. 

Head Start and Early Head Start programs aren’t only child care programs. They endeavor to help the entire family. They offer home visits and all kinds of other services that go beyond the other kinds of child care we’ll discuss in later sections. 

If you think you might qualify for one of these programs, you’ll want to check them out. Your local Child Care Aware phone number might be a good place to start calling — their goal is to connect you with any resources you might need, and these programs definitely fall under that umbrella. If you’d rather skip the step of dialing the Child Care Aware phone number, you can see a list of all Missouri Head Start locations here.

If there aren’t DSS approved daycare facilities, where can I find reputable child care?

There are different resources out there for finding the right child care facility for your family. One of them is Child Care Aware® of Missouri. You can peruse our website for a directory of child care facilities within the state that meet our requirements. Find your local Child Care Aware phone number and give us a call if that’s giving you trouble.

Of course, if you’re not looking for child care within the state of Missouri, you can find the Child Care Aware phone number for the branch that’s in your neck of the woods. You can also find their website if you’re more digitally inclined. They should have much the same resources available for you, and if they don’t, they should be able to refer you to somewhere that does. 

If it’s not through DSS, how does the state approve child care facilities?

As we mentioned earlier, licensing child care facilities goes through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE. The requirements depend on the type of child care program that’s being considered for licensing, and not all facilities need a license. The license-exempt child care facilities include religious preschools and non-religious programs that run for four hours or fewer per day. 

These kinds of programs need to have regular fire, sanitation, and health inspections by the state, and fully exempt programs (like summer camps or programs run by school systems) aren’t required to have any inspections. All other types of child care settings need to be licensed by DESE in the Show Me State, and if you call up the Child Care Aware phone number or visit our website, we have a directory of them. Here are the different categories those facilities might fall under and the requirements for each.

Family Child Care Home

This kind of program can only accommodate a maximum of ten children at a time. As the name suggests, these programs are run in the educator’s own home. Family child care homes need to be licensed by the state, which means they need to go through regular safety and licensing inspections. Those licensing inspections are there to make sure the program is following all the rules set out by the state, which includes stipulations like the number of children in the program at any given time as well as general safety concerns. The full list of rules is pretty extensive, so we won’t list them all here. Suffice it to say that family child care homes are held to fairly high standards, as are the remaining child care settings on this list.

Like the other kinds of child care we’ll cover in the next sections, if you’re interested in enrolling your child in a family child care home, you can look through databases or find the Child Care Aware phone number and give them a call. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Group Child Care Home

At first glance, this category of child care settings might not seem any different from family child care homes, which we just went over. However, group child care homes are held to different standards than family child care homes, even though they must also be licensed by the state. 

To be considered a group child care home, there needs to be separation between the educator’s living quarters and the area where they run the child care program. That might just be a separate wing of their home, or it might be in a completely different facility. Unlike family child care homes, group child care homes can accommodate up to 20 children at a time. 

There are specific requirements for the physical area where the children are cared for, like any licensed child care facility. There are also specific stipulations on ratios of staff to children as well as other concerns. We’ve already suggested calling your local Child Care Aware phone number for more information on any of this, and that stands for group child care homes, as well.

Child Care Center

This is the largest kind of licensed child care facility. They can accommodate more than 20 children (sometimes a lot more than that), and they are always run in a facility that doesn’t double as the main educator’s home. The children participating in one of these types of programs are typically separated into different classes or rooms according to their age.

The licensing rules governing child care centers are actually much the same as those for group child care homes. There are some differences, like the number of children that can be in the facility, but most of the other requirements are the same. 

If you have any more questions about the differences between your options for licensed child care facilities in the state of Missouri, the Child Care Aware phone number would be a great place to turn. We’ll be able to provide you with some relevant resources. 

So, this has been your basic primer on the licensed child care facilities in the state of Missouri.

You may have started out looking for DSS approved daycare, but now that you’ve reached the bottom of this piece, you know that DSS approved daycare is not even something you can ever attain — at least within the state of Missouri. The moral of the story is that you need to look elsewhere to find licensed child care programs in the state, and even more than that, you need to look at other considerations other than just licensure to make sure you’re sending your children to a reputable facility. If you’re on the other side of things as a child care worker, then you need to know that it usually takes more than just the bare minimum licensing requirements to run the best child care program possible, and that you shouldn’t look to DSS for those but rather DESE. It’s a similar acronym, but they’re two completely different departments. 

We want to leave you with a few calls to action. If you’re in search of more information or assistance, find your local Child Care Aware phone number and give them a call. They’ll be able to help. And if you’re on the child care provider side of things, the Child Care Aware phone number works just the same for you. The goal of the organization is to connect both parents and child care workers with the resources they need.