Obviously, you want to find a child care or after-school program that will provide the very best care for your child. Here are some basic quality indicators that you should look for in whatever child care program you are considering:
§ Group Sizes - Some children enjoy working in small groups or one-on-one, while others enjoy being around a large number of children. Figuring out what fits best with your child’s personality will help ensure the success of his or her transition to this new child care program. Group size can affect the quality of care for children in relation to safety, attention given and daily adult interactions. Look for group sizes that offer opportunities to be independent, work together and change throughout the day.
§ Ratios - The younger the child, the more one-on-one care he or she may need. When each adult is responsible for fewer children, your child can receive more one-on-one attention. The amount of time a child can spend with an adult each day is often an indicator of the quality of care being given. Attention is crucial to your child’s social and emotional development. As children grow, classroom adult-to-child ratios increase but the need for adult supervision and interaction do not.
§ Accreditation - Generally, accredited programs are those that meet the highest standards of care and exceed licensing regulations. Once completed, the program will have a certificate of accreditation.
§ Family Involvement - Quality programs work closely with parents to ensure they are kept informed about their child’s development. They often have an open door policy which means parents are free to come and go at any time. A program that provides written policies for parents and encourages parent involvement may be signs of a quality program.
§ Caregiver Education and Turnover - How much education and continuing professional development a child care provider has is an important indicator of quality. Low staff turnover provides continuity of care for children and also shows a welcoming, supportive, and positive environment, which may translate into better care for your child.
§ Health and Safety - Licensed programs meet the state’s health and safety standards. Child care programs that consistently practice health and safety standards such as frequent hand washing, disinfecting diaper changing stations, cleaning toys and proper storage of cleaning supplies and other poisonous materials, are more likely to protect children from harm and illness.
§ Inclusive Child Care Programs - An ‘inclusive’ program is one that includes children with and without disabilities taking part in the same routines and play activities. Child care providers in inclusive programs learn to recognize each child’s strengths and needs. They make creative changes to routines and activities so that each child can be successful.
§ Check Licensing Records before selecting a program - One of the most important steps parents should take before choosing a child care program is to check the state licensing records of programs they are considering. All regulated programs must follow specific rules set by the state of Missouri. The Missouri regulations help to ensure the safety of children in care. It is important to review the licensing records to make sure the child care program is in good standing with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Section for Child Care Regulation and that there are no unresolved citations. You can check for regulatory history, occurrence of serious citations and the complaint history of a program.
These are important considerations to ensure a quality child care placement and a vital component of a comprehensive search for the right child care provider. For more information, read the Guide to Child Care Services.