Shortly before each of my children were born, the last thing I wanted to think about was leaving my baby in someone else’s care. However, as a working mom I needed some time to decide which type of care would be best for my babies and family, and to visit several different facilities and caregivers. Like most parents, I needed to know that my children were safe, healthy, happy--and learning, too. Certain factors are especially important in choosing the right child care for your child (see NACCRRA, 2003; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002).
In addition to making the adult to child ratio is appropriate for your child’s age group, check out the caregivers’ education and training in childcare and child development. Caregivers need to be trained in first aid, cleanliness and safety standards, and emergency procedures. Caregivers with training, education and experience in working with children understand what children need to grow and learn. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2002; Child Care Aware b, 2001-2006; NAEYC, 2006).
Ask about staff turnover. Children do better when they can get to know their caregiver, and changes interrupt the developing relationship. Check how long caregivers have been at the center or providing care from their homes (NACCRRA, 2003; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002).
A high quality program has activities and materials geared to the age of the children, a daily schedule, indoor and outdoor play every day, and warm and responsive relationships with caregivers (American Academy of Pediatrics, n.d.; NAEYC, 2006). The facility or home itself should also be safe and secure, clean, and well maintained. (National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care, 2005).
Several checklists are available to help you select quality child care. See our Web site for details or contact your local child care resource and referral agency or Child Care Aware (1-800-424-2246; http://www.childcareaware.org/en/) (Child Care Aware b, 2001-2006).
- Consider whether a center not only is licensed by the state but is also accredited by a national child care organization.
American Academy of Pediatrics (n.d.). Child care—Finding high-quality care. Accessed May 31, 2006.
Child Care Aware a (2001-2006). 5 steps to choosing quality child care. Retrieved June 6, 2006
Child Care Aware b (2001-2006). A parent’s guide to choosing safe and healthy child care. Retrieved June 6, 2006
National Association for Education of Young Children. (2006). Quality programs nurture relationships to enhance young children's learning. Retrieved June 6, 2006.
National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care. (2005). Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards: Guidelines for out-of-home child care (2nd edition). Retrieved June 6, 2006.
National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care. (n. d). A parent’s guide to choosing safe and healthy child care. Aurora CO: University of Colorado. Retrieved June 6, 2006.
NACCRRA (Nation’s Network of Child Care Resource and Referral), 2003. A guide for dads: Give your child an early lead in life…quality child care. Retrieved June 6, 2006.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2002). 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Retrieved June 6, 2006.