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What is quality child care?

What Is Quality 500X333

One of the toughest decisions working parents must make is choosing child care for their newborn. If you’re a first time parent, the task is doubly challenging. What types of providers are there? How do you recognize a good one? Will your child thrive in their care?

ABC Quality, a program administered by the Division of Early Care and Education of the SC Department of Social Services, ensures South Carolina parents have the information to help answer these and other important questions about child care and child development. You don’t have to rely on a hunch or gut feeling. Here are two ways to begin to evaluate the quality of care with confidence.

Know if a provider is registered, licensed or exempt.
South Carolina laws recognize four types of providers: licensed or approved; registered faith-based; registered family home; and exempt. The level of oversight by the SC Department of Social Services (DSS) varies for each type of provider. 

By law, child care providers in South Carolina must be either licensed or registered with DSS based on the service provided. As with many laws, there are exceptions. Some providers are exempt from the requirement because of their extremely limited hours of operation.

While being licensed or approved isn’t an automatic sign of quality, it shows a provider is operating in compliance with state laws regarding health and safety. Some providers operate legally and safely without a license. For these providers, however, it’s vital that parents understand that there is little-to-no mandated oversight by DSS. Knowing the difference between licensed and registered providers is a great first step in evaluating the quality of care.

Look for a provider that participates in ABC Quality. 
Beyond complying with mandatory requirements for health and safety, South Carolina providers can participate in ABC Quality, South Carolina’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system.

Providers who participate receive an ABC Quality rating which demonstrates the level of their commitment to creating higher quality experiences for children in their care. A rating indicates that care surpasses (A+ or A), exceeds (B+ or B) or meets (C) established practices of high quality child care. To arrive at the rating, trained program evaluators analyze aspects of care, including:

  • teacher education and certification
  • instructional activities
  • personalization of learning
  • health and safety
  • family involvement

Navigate childhood with help from
As you search for a provider and start reviewing your leading choices, these two important factors can help you begin to make informed decisions about child care options. After child care is checked off your to-do list, we’re still working hard for you, monitoring the facility you chose and updating the results of our monitoring visits at, so check your child’s provider regularly.

Keep ABC Quality handy for easy-to-access information about child care and child development at every stage. From newborn care to pre-k brain development, get facts and useful tips with less stress, more transparency, and trusted reliability — a few things all South Carolina parents deserve. 

By ABC Quality Team on October 6, 2016