Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Give Your Child Something That Will Last a Lifetime… Quality Child Care!

Quality child care can make a big difference in the future of your child, your community, and even the world.  By choosing quality care now, you give your child a head start on a strong mind, body, and spirit.  So take your time in choosing child care because it will be one of the most important decisions your family will make.  Compare your choices and ask plenty of questions. The more you know about your choices the easier it is going to be to make that decision.

There are five basic steps in choosing a quality child care program:

1. Look  Visit several child care facilities so you are able to compare each one.  On each visit, think about your first impression.  But do not stop there.  Ask yourself some questions:  Does the place look safe for your child?  Does the staff talk with each child at the child’s eye level?  Are there plenty of toys and learning materials within a child’s reach?  Always visit a potential program more than once and at after different times of day.  Continue your visits after you start using the child care.

2. Listen  Close your eyes and see what you hear when you walk into a potential program.  Do you hear children’s voices?  Do they sound happy?  How do the teacher’s voices sound?  A place that’s too quiet may mean not enough activity.  A place that’s too noisy may mean there is a lack of control.

3. Count  Count the number of children in the group.  Then count the number of staff members caring for them.  The fewer number of children for each adult, the more attention your child will get.  If it is a licensed facility, there are regulations around the ratio of children to teachers.

4. Ask  It’s very important that the adults who care for your children have the knowledge and experience to give them the attention they need.  Ask about the background, experience, and education of all staff, including the director.  Quality care providers will be happy to have you ask these questions.

5. Be informed  Find out more information about quality improvement projects in your area.  Ask if the potential provider is enrolled in these activities.  Ask the provider is accredited.  These programs undergo in-depth self-assessments, independent observation and approval by professional experts.

Utilizing these five steps is a great way to start to find a program that meets your family’s needs.  Child Care Aware® of Missouri can aid you in this search for child care if you call 1-866-892-3228.  They know a lot about local choices and can provide you with more resources to aid you in this search.  They can also save you time in searching for child care.  Finding convenient, affordable, high quality child care can take a lot of time, but it’s certainly time well spent.

Written by:  Joanne Nelson, Central Region Coordinator, Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri with information from the National Association of Child Care Resource Referral Association

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