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Quality Child CareResources

Choosing Quality Child Care

child's arm with toy kitchen in the background

Quality child care builds the foundation for lifelong learning!

One of the most important decisions for working families is choosing child care. Quality child care provides safe, healthy, stimulating learning environments for young children. In choosing child care, here are a few things to consider:

Choose a caregiver who is warm, loving, and responsive to children’s needs. Observe the classrooms. Is the atmosphere warm, nurturing, caring, encouraging, and positive for children?

What is the education level of the caregiver? Research shows that the positive development of children is associated with the caregiver’s education level. Ideally, the caregiver should have a degree in early childhood education.

What is the staff turnover rate? Young children benefit from secure and consistent relationships with adults. Frequent staff changes may impede the optimal development of children.

What is the ratio of children to staff?  Look for these or similar ratios per adult:

  • Infants: 3-5
  • Toddlers: 3-6
  • Age 2: 4-9
  • Age 3: 8-10
  • Age 4 – 6: 12-16

What is the philosophy of the caregiver? Young children flourish in programs designed to nurture each child’s development in individually and developmentally appropriate ways.

What are the caregiver’s values and approach to discipline? The caregiver’s approach should mirror the parents’ approach. Children are confused and negatively affected if adults in their lives disagree. Watch how the caregiver handles children, comforts them, and interacts with them. Does she seem genuinely interested? Does she display warmth and affection?

Is there an organized program? Is a lesson plan or schedule of activities displayed for the day or week? Do plans include outdoor time, music, art, dramatic play, and other age-appropriate activities? An effective program includes:

  • Clean, uncluttered, well-lighted setting
  • Safe play areas, inside and outside
  • Learning centers for music, science, art, dramatic play, water and sand activities
  • Caregivers talking/playing with children in small groups and on the floor
  • Language-rich environment with lots of talking, reading, and singing
  • Open-door policy to parents anytime
  • A high recommendation by other parents