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 – In general, fewer children and more adults lead to higher quality care. Some children enjoy working in small groups or one-on-one, while others enjoy being around a large number of children. Consider your child’s needs as you choose the program size that will be best for your family.
Ratios – Younger children typically need more one-on-one care. When each adult is responsible for fewer children, your child can get more attention. Interaction with caring adults is important for child’s social and emotional development.
Accreditation – Accredited programs meet higher standards for care above licensing regulations. An accredited program will have a certificate available for your review.
Family Involvement – Quality programs work with families to meet the needs of all children enrolled. They often have an open door policy, which means parents, grandparents, or guardians are free to visit at any time. Encouraging family involvement is often a sign of a quality program.
Caregiver Education and Turnover – Education and ongoing training of the caregiver(s) is an important indicator of quality. Caregivers working in a licensed child care program in Missouri are required to earn 12 clock hours of training each year. Many choose to attend more training and some have taken college courses.
Higher quality child care programs often keep the same employees for a long time. Low staff turnover provides stability for children. This also shows the program is welcoming, supportive and a positive environment. This may lead to better care for your child.
Health and Safety –Health and safety practices protect children from harm and illness. Those caring for children should wash hands, disinfect diaper changing stations, and clean toys regularly. Cleaning supplies and other poisonous materials should be stored properly and out of reach of children. Licensed programs must meet the state’s health and safety standards.
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. Caregivers 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 (licensed and license exempt) 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. Click here to find your local Section for Child Care Regulation Office. You can also view a program’s licensing inspection reports online by clicking here.
These are important considerations to ensure a quality child care placement and a vital component of a comprehensive search for the right child care program. For more information, read the Guide to Child Care Services.