SOESD / School Improvement Services / Child Care Resource Network / Child Care Quality, Health & Safety
Child Care Quality, Health & Safety
5 Steps to Finding Good Child Care:
1. Start looking as far in advance as you can.
No matter what type of care you are considering— a child care center or care in someone else’s home — finding the right child care option can take some time.
2. Make a call
Begin your search by calling your local experts. In southern Oregon, Child Care Resource Network can give you the facts about child care and a list of child care options in your area that may meet your needs. Make sure to consider these things:
3. Visit and Ask Questions
- What are the licensing requirements in my area?
- How can I get information about complaints and licensing? Violations?
- Are there any child care financial assistance programs that my family qualifies for?
Make sure you visit the child care options you are considering. Find out about these key indicators of quality:
4. Make a Choice
- Adult to Child Ratio - the fewer the children per adult the better for your child. Ask how many children are there for each adult. The younger your child, the more important this is. Babies need an adult ratio of 1:4 (one adult for four infants), while four-year-olds can do well with a ratio of 1:10 (one adult to for ten children).
- Group Size - the smaller the group, the better. Imagine a group of 25 two-year-olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 with two adults. Both groups have the same adult to child ratio. Which would be calmer and safer? Which would be more like a family?
- Caregiver Qualifications - caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn. Ask about their training and education. Are the caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills? Do they attend classes and workshops?
- Turnover - it’s best if children stay with the same provider for at least a year. Check out how long the caregivers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. Caregivers who come and go make it hard on your child. Getting used to new caregivers takes time and energy that could be spent on learning new things.
- Accreditation - providers that are accreditated have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most 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 larges organizations that accredit child care programs.
Think about what you saw at each visit, and make the best choice for your and family. Use the checklist below to help you.
- Does the person who will be caring for your child have special training in early childhoood education, First Aid, and CPR?
- How long has the caregiver been in the same program or providing care in the home?
- Are just a few children being cared for by one caregiver (low child/adult ratio)
- If there is more than one caregiver in the setting, is the total number of children in the group still a fairly small (group size)
- If you are considering a more formal child care program, is it nationally accredited and is it state licensed or regulated?
- Does the caregiver welcome drop-in visits and parent ideas and involvement?
- Does the caregiver get on the children’s eye level, and give them lots of attention and encouragement?
- Are there planned activities for children to do as well as lots time for free play?
- Are materials- such as books, blocks, toys, and art supplies- available to children all day long?
- Does the place look clean and safe, and is hand washing done often?
- Does the caregiver have written policies and procedures, including emergency plans?
- Does the caregiver have references?
- You know your child best- will your child be happy there?
5. Stay Involved
The work isn’t over when you find good care for your child. You and your child’s caregiver are partners now. Here are some ways to be involved:
- Have parent-caregiver meetings regularly, and ask questions.
- Offer to volunteer time when needed, like participating in clean up days or fixing broken toys.
- Be there for your child’s birthday.
- Visit your child at child care and read a book aloud.
Even if you can’t get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask the caregiver how things are going, and how your child is doing. Visiting and participating in events at your child’s provider sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child’s caregiver that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.
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.