If you are considering enrolling your child in a child care program, you have probably realized that all programs are not equal. Many programs offer similiar services but can vary in quality.
As you visit or tour programs, choosing the best place for your child, you may wish to review the following checklist:
- Is the program in compliance with applicable laws or licensing regulations?
Licensed programs have met the minimum standards for healthy and safe care.
- Is the program accredited? This is a voluntary process where programs show they have met a higher standard of care and quality determined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- Is the physical environment a bright, colorful and inviting place?
- Is the environment designed with children in mind? Furniture should be child sized. Materials should be accessible. Displays should be at the child's eye level.
- Are the toys and materials plentiful, age appropriate and in good repair?
- Does the program have an "open door" policy where you are welcome to drop by and visit whenever you wish?
- Are parents encouraged to participate in program planning and events?
- Will you be regulary informed of your child's progress and child care experiences?
- Are general program policies and procedures available to you in writing?
- Do the caregivers have training and experience working with children?
- Do caregivers interact one-on-one with children in a warm and responsive way?
- Are caregivers responsible for small groups of children? Recommended ratios for adults to children are: infants-1:3 toddlers-1:5 preschool-1:8 school age-1:12.
- Do caregivers only use positive discipline techniques?
- Is there a low turn-over in staffing? Will there be a consistent caregiver for your child to develop a relationship with?
- Are there daily opportunities for free play? Is there a balance between quiet and active, large and small group activities? Are there daily opportunities for outdoor or very active play?
- Does the program or curriculum reflect a sensitvity and respect for those from diverse ethnic and cultural groups?
- Do the activities promote growth in different areas of development including, physical growth, social skills, emotional growth, verbal skills, cognitive ability and creativity?
This checklist is only a brief overview of what to consider when choosing a quality child care program for your child. If you wish to read more, here are super places to start: