Diane Lyons, president of Accent on Children's Arrangements, New Orleans, says that planners should consider several factors when choosing a child-care provider:

* Reputation Is the company recommended by a convention bureau? Does it have a solid, updated client list? How many years has it been the business?

* Experience Has the company worked with a group of the same size and age diversity?

* Insurance and training Does the company carry liability insurance? Are employees CPR-certified, or do they have other safety/medical training, such as pediatric first aid?

* Staff-to-child ratios The National Association for the Education of Young Children calls for 1-to-3 adult-to-child ratios for children from birth to age 2, up to 1-to-14 ratios for children ages 9 to 12.

* Programming Are programs customized? Are they appropriate for the age and culture of the children?

* Security protocol Does the company have established safety, security, and registration procedures? How does it handle drop-offs and pickups?