Choosing Quality Child Care

Points to Consider During the Decision-Making Process

Program:

  • Values learning through play
  • Has clear educational and social goals
  • Creates an environment where children learn words and prereading skills through books, songs, and two-way conversations
  • Encourages kids to become deeply engaged in play and allows them to make choices throughout the day
  • Offers a lot of books, blocks, puzzles, art, music and dramatic play activities
  • Makes sand and water play available on a regular basis
  • Limits screen time (television/videos/computer/portable devices limited to 1 hour/week in full-day program)
  • Refrains from any screen time at all for children under 18 months
  • Provides space and equipment for indoor and outdoor gross motor (large muscle) play
  • Monitors a child’s development in a valid, reliable way using research-based tools
  • Appreciates the importance of social-emotional learning

 

Staff Background and Training:

  • Licensed and/or accredited facility
  • Low staff turnover
  • Director ideally holds a college degree (bachelor’s degree or higher) in a child-related field.
  • Conducts background checks for all caregivers
  • Staff participates in professional development programs
  • Staff is trained to recognize and report suspected child abuse.

 

Atmosphere:

  • Makes you and your child feel welcome
  • Engages children in activities and creates a happy environment
  • Respects each child’s individual cultural, ethnic and/or religious background
  • Encourages positive, meaningful interactions between staff and children
  • Provides consistency in terms of its caregivers
  • Welcomes parents to drop in at any time
  • Supports discipline policies that are fair, positive, respectful, and consistent
  • Offers clear and ongoing communications between the center, teachers, and families through newsletters, conferences, and events

 

Health:

  • Promotes cleanliness; equipment and play materials are regularly disinfected
  • Requires current immunizations for staff and children
  • Emphasizes proper hand-washing rules for staff and children
  • Maintains clean diapering and toilet training areas
  • Staff is certified in first aid and CPR
  • Has policies in place for giving out medication and caring for sick children

 

Safety:

  • Provides adult supervision at all times
  • Follows “safe sleep” practices
  • Keeps playground equipment fenced in, in good repair and securely anchored
  • Offers safe and age-appropriate toys and play equipment
  • Regularly checks for safety recalls of toys, cribs, and playground equipment
  • Locks away all potentially poisonous substances including medications and cleaning supplies
  • Has clear emergency procedures for accidents, missing children, custody situations, fires and other disasters

 

Nutrition:

  • Serves healthy and appetizing snacks and meals
  • Safely handles food allergies, dietary restrictions, and ethnic preferences
  • Posts breakfast and lunch menus; ask to see one
  • Allows for flexibility in eating patterns, whether kids leave food on their plates or ask for seconds