High Quality Child Care Lasts a Lifetime
By choosing quality care, you give your child a great start on a love of learning for a lifetime of success.
Start looking as far in advance as you can. No matter what type of care you are considering - a child care center, care in someone's home, or care for an infant, toddler, preschooler, or school age child - finding the right child care option can take some time.
Make a Call
Begin your search by calling your local experts - your Child Care Resource & Referral agency (CCR&R). CCR&R's can give you the facts about child care and a list of child care options in your area that meet your needs. Make sure to ask the referral specialist these questions:
1. What should I look for in a good child care center or family child care home?
2. What are the licensing requirements in my area?
3. How can I get information about complaints and licensing violations?
4. Does my family qualify for any financial assistance?
Visit and Ask Questions
When you visit child care centers or family child care homes, consider these key indicators of quality:
Find out how many children are in the group (group size). The smaller the group the better for your child. Babies need a group size of no more than six to eight in a room. Four-year-olds should be in a group of no more than 16-20 children.
Adult to Child Ratio: Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. You want your child to get plently of attention. The younger your child, the more important this is. Babies need an adult to child ratio of no more than one adult for three or four infants. Most 4-year-olds can do well with a ratio of one adult for 8-10 children.
Child Care Provider Qualifications: Ask about the child care providers' training and education. Child care providers with special training in working with children are better able to help your child learn. The following questions are important to ask yourself:
1. Do the child care providers have preparation to work with chidlren, such as a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or an AA or BA degree in early childhood education or a related field?
2. Are the child care proivders involved in ongoing professional activities to improve their skills related to caring for children?
3. Is there always someone present who has current CPR and first-aid training?
4. Have the adults been trained on child abuse prevention and how to report suspected cases?
5. Have the adults who are present and caring for children received the background checks with fingerprint?
Check how long the child care providers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It is best if children stay with the same child care provider for at least a year. It is hard for children if their child care providers change frequently. Getting used to new child care providers taked time and energy that could be spent on learning new thigns.
Accreditation: Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Accredited programs have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
Make a Choice
Think about what you saw at each visit and make the best choice for your child and family. Click here for checklist.
The work is not over when you find good care for your child. You and your child care provider are partners now. Here are some ways to be involved:
1. Meet regularly with your child care provider and ask questions.
2. Volunteer time when needed, like participating in clean up days or fixing broken toys.
3. Visit your child and read a book aloud.
4. Join in special events and holidays, liek field trips, Career Day, Black History Month or Thanksgiving. Visiting and partiicpating in events at your child's program sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child care provider that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.
Even if you cannot get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask your child care provider how things are going and how your child is doing.