Considerations in Finding Quality Child Care
Below is a list of things to consider when searching for the right child care for your family.
Your Child's Needs - To narrow down your choices of child care settings, think carefully about your child's needs and how he or she would be best satisfied by various environments. Keep these factors in mind as you look at a variety of child care situations:
- Does your child do better in a small group, or in a larger group with a lot of activity and contact with other children?
- Does your child have special scheduling needs? Is he or she toilet trained? Does he or she need lots of room to run around? Does your child bond with others easily, or handle separation well?
- Would your child benefit more from having one provider, or from having a group of teachers, in his or her daily life?
Your Family's Needs - Think about your schedule, your financial constraints, and the location of your workplace. If you need early drop-off times or late pickups, make sure you ask about the program's hours and late fees. The more flexible your schedule, the more choices you will have.
Location - Do you want your child to be close to where you work so you can be there quickly in an emergency or have a chance to drop in during the day? Or would your rather it be closer to home to avoid a long commute for your child at the beginning and end of their day?
When to Start Looking - Many Child Care Centers have waiting lists, so you should begin your search at least a year before you anticipate needing care. Many Family providers do not have waiting lists, so you can start your visits four to six months before you need care.
Special Needs - If your child has special needs, you will have to be extra careful in selecting a setting that best suits him or her. Council can give you a list of providers who have experience caring for children with disabilities, and can counsel you on specific aspects to consider.
Adult to Child Ratio - Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. You want your child to get plenty of attention. The younger the child, the more important this is.
Group Size - Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better. Imagine a group of 25 two year olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 with two adults. Both groups have the same adult to child ratio. Which would be calmer and safer? Which would be more like a family?
Caregiver Qualifications - Ask about the caregivers' training and education. Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn. Are the caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills? Do they attend classes and workshops?
Turnover - Check how long caregivers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It's best if children stay with the same caregiver for at least a year. Caregivers who come and go make it hard on your child. Getting used to new caregivers takes time and energy that could be spent on learning new things.
Accreditation - Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Providers that are accredited have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
QUALITYstarsNY - is a comprehensive initiative to ensure that our young children - the 1.5 million New Yorkers under the age of six - have the opportunity for high-quality early learning experiences. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) are designed to evaluate program quality based on universal standards for early childhood settings; communicate program quality to families by assigning them to "star ratings" similar to those used in other consumer ratings; and help programs continually improve quality through targeted supports. For more information on this important initiative and the latest updates click here.
Benefits of QUALITYstarsNY include:
- Gives parents information to help them choose the best care for their children
- Sets clear standards and establishes a data system to insure accountability
- Ensures tax dollars are being invested in programs that work
- Creates a universal system to assess, improve and communicate the quality of the state's early childhood programs
- Provides struggling programs with a roadmap and access to support and resources to ensure improvement
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) - The child care program you choose for your child may be a CACFP participant. CACFP is a federally funded program administered by the NYS Department of Health and sponsored by Council. If the program your child is enrolled in participates in CACFP it means that your child is being served healthy meals and snacks, according to the guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture. Learn more about CACFP here.
Medication Administration - In New York State, the law states that any child care programs which choose to administer medications to the children in their care MUST be certified to do so by approved trainers in a specialized course. Their license must identify that they are approved. This is a wonderful safeguard for you and your children. This course gives providers an overview of all aspects of safe medication handling, storage and administration including consents and permissions needed for medication administration and a review of different types of medications and the routes which they are permitted to give. It teaches them about side effects, adverse reactions and allergies. Emergency treatment with an epipen is highlighted as well. Each participant must pass a written examination and demonstrate safe and appropriate administration of two medications chosen at random. If you have any questions concerning medication administration in a child care setting for your children, please call ext.36.