Choosing the right child care for your child is a thoughtful process and an important decision for your family. Learn more about the types of child care available to you, and begin thinking about which type may fit your family's and your child's needs. Early childhood experiences and environments impact brain development, and set the stage for school readiness and success in life. The good news is parents and caregivers have many options when it comes to identifying the best type of child care environment to support their child’s developmental needs. Looking for the right child care environment well before its needed can help parents make informed choices.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when searching for child care:
Start your search early. Prepare to make visits to child care programs with confidence and knowledge about indicators of quality child care which can include: promoting positive relationships among all children and adults; curriculum that promotes learning and development in each of the following areas: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive; receive information about your child’s development and learning on a regular basis; children’s health, nutrition and safety are supported; teachers are knowledgeable about child development and early childhood education; family engagement and participation is encouraged; and the environment has a variety of developmentally appropriate materials and equipment. Understanding these indicators will help you make an informed choice for your child and family.
Visit the agency. The parent-provider relationship is critical to a child’s development. Visit each agency a few times, and speak with a variety of staff to see if the child care environment would be a good fit for your child as they grow. If your child is older, for example a toddler or preschooler, bring them along to gauge their reaction to the child care environment as well.
Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about things like meals, nap time, teacher-child ratios, how positive guidance techniques are used, and does the agency use a curriculum. Review the child care agency’s report card, and license which is prominently placed where parents can see them within all state licensed child care agencies.
Make Drop-In Visits Often. Once a child is enrolled in an agency, make frequent visits. Parents should be encouraged to visit, even if it is an unannounced visit. Maintaining an open partnership with a child care provider will ensure the child is receiving care that meets the family’s expectations, as well as the child’s developmental needs.