Quality care is important for success in school and life. Studies show that children in high-quality child care enter school with better math, language and social skills.
All parents considering child care want a program that will provide a healthy, safe and engaging environment for their child. However, before you can begin looking for quality providers, you need to know what to look for and what questions to ask.
The following basic principles indicate a program with higher standards:
Adult to Child Ratio
For a complete list of quality indicators, please review “Is This The Right Place For My Child” from Child Care Aware.
Using one or more of the methods provided below, locate providers in your area that offer quality early care and education.
- Contact information
- Days and Hours of Operations
- Paths to QUALITYTM and On My Way Pre-K participation
- Financial Assistance options, including CCDF approval
- Displays programs on a map with directions from your home, school or work
Enhanced referrals for infants and toddlers
First a conversation by phone or email takes place for the staff to learn about the individual needs of the family seeking care. Once potential child care providers have been identified, the family will receive a list of referrals along with an interview check list and age-specific literature on developmental milestones.
Enhanced referrals for children with special needs
First a conversation by phone or email takes place for the staff to learn about the individual needs of the family seeking care. Providers who match the family’s criteria are contacted to verify openings, and then the family will receive a list of referrals along with an interview check list and child-specific literature.
On My Way Pre-K
On My Way Pre-K awards grants to 4-year-olds from low-income families so that they may have access to a high-quality pre-K program the year before they begin kindergarten. Families who receive a grant may use the grant at any approved On My Way Pre-K program.
Once you have a list of providers, it is time to schedule visits. When contacting providers to schedule visits, keep in mind the following:
- The provider may be occupied with children when you call.
- Discuss the services offered and whether the provider is willing to work with your family’s needs.
- Request a list of names and phone numbers of the provider’s personal or professional references.
- Discuss rates last to indicate to the provider that your first concern is the quality of the program.
- Verify important information:
- Hours of operation
- Name of primary contact
- Is care home-based or center-based
- Presence of pets or smokers
The best time to schedule a visit/interview may be dictated by the following:
- If the provider is home-based or a center
- Pick-up and drop-off times may be hectic.
- Lunch and snack serving times may also be hectic.
- Nap times offer a less hectic environment but fewer opportunities to observe activities.
As a parent, you should feel that you are part of the child care program you have chosen. Keep the lines of communication open between yourself and the caregiver. Build in a few minutes each time you drop off or pick up your child to talk with the caregiver about your child’s day. These conversations allow you and the caregiver to work as a team, and provide one more opportunity for you to make sure everything is going smoothly.