Finding quality child care: Is the program high quality?

Leaving your child with caregivers can be difficult and knowing how to find a safe, engaging and quality center-based or home-based program is incredibly important.

January 4, 2017 - Author: ,

There are several things to consider when evaluating the quality of child care options.
There are several things to consider when evaluating the quality of child care options.

Leaving your child to be cared for by someone else is often one of the hardest parts about being a parent. Taking the time to find child care options that are high quality, educational, supportive and safe can make the process a little less daunting.

Ask yourself four questions when investigating a center-based or home-based child care:

This article will focus on the fourth question: Is the program high quality?

Is the program high quality?

Is the program or center licensed? The state of Michigan provides licensing programs for child care centers and family and group homes. In order to be licensed, programs must prove they meet rigorous standards. For more information about Michigan child care rules and regulations, check out the licensing rules for child care centers and family and group homes.

Are policies and procedures written down and available? Organized, quality programs will have written policies and procedures to staff to follow as well as parents. When asked, staff should be able to provide you a copy of written policies, like a sickness policy, late payment policy, etc.

Is the program accredited? Some programs choose to go above and beyond state licensing requirements and become accredited as a quality program by another organization, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Association for Family Child Care, National After School Association or National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.

Are parents welcome to participate in the program? You should be welcome to stop by and visit your child at any time, even dropping in without notice. Check to see if parents are asked to volunteer in the classroom, attend special events and give feedback on staff or program performance.

How does staff communicate with parents? Ask how program staff regularly communicate with parents about their child’s development, behavior and any issues that might arise. Maybe they provide daily communication at pickup or drop off. They may also provide phone calls or emails during the day.

What is the policy if I have a problem or concern? Quality programs will attempt to problem-solve with families and make reasonable accommodations or changes to meet family and child needs.

For more information about finding quality care for your children, check out the following resources:

Also, check out the guide “Is This The Right Place For My Child?” from Childcare Aware, which includes 38 questions to ask any potential child care provider. For more information about Michigan child care rules and regulations, check out the licensing rules for child care centers and family and group homes.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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Tags: approaches to learning, caregiving, early childhood development, family, msu extension


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