What are the characteristics of a high quality child care provider?

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Whether you are searching for a large child care center, a faith-based center, or a smaller in-home program, the one common trait you should always seek in all options is the quality of the center. It can be hard to recognize quality — especially if you’re searching for child care for the first time.  ABC Quality provides a quality checklist of what to look for in a child care program to make sure a potential option is one that provides a safe, stimulating environment and one that will allow your child to thrive.

When exploring your child care options, make sure to look for the following:

Facility and Activities

Make sure a center is well-lit and clean, including bathrooms, nurseries, and food preparation areas.

Make sure there is room for play. An overcrowded or cramped facility will not provide adequate space for optimum recreation and education.

Make sure a facility provides a skill-building classroom center. Because children experience their greatest period of rapid brain development in the first five years of life, a center should provide educational experiences that help with problem solving and skill development.

Make sure a TV or video is not taking the place of an attentive teacher or caretaker. TV or videos should not be regular activities and should be used sparingly.

Is the center safe and secure? Make sure to ask about security systems and safety protocols in the center.

Evaluate indoor and outdoor areas to make sure they are safe, secure places for your child.

Caregivers and Teachers

Make sure a center has a low staff-to-child ratio. For newborns to 18 month, this means one caregiver for every four children. For toddlers (2 years old), this means one caregiver for every six children. For 3 year olds, this means one caregiver for every 10 children. For 4 year olds, this means one caregiver for every 13 children. And for preschool children (age 4 and up), this means one caregiver for every 17 children.

Make sure caregivers are well-trained and experienced. Be sure and ask providers about everyone on staff. Ideally, teachers will have some college and/or early childhood education.

Make sure a center encourages social and cognitive development (thinking, reasoning, or remembering).

Watch out for teachers who speak in “baby talk.” This speaking style will not encourage a child’s overall development.

Also, watch out for teachers who speak too harshly to the children. Tone of voice and intimidating language is not ideal for optimum learning and also becomes a psychological barrier to relationship building.

Program and Structure

Ask about staff turnover rates. A low teacher turnover is ideal as it allows for the building of important relationships and building trust with adults.

Does a center have clear policies and a structured program? Find out the rules and regulations that are in place. And also review any licensing or violations that a center may have.

Has a center pursued ABC Quality and other accreditations? Child care is a constantly evolving discipline, and the best centers will continue to better themselves at every opportunity.

Ask for current parent references and ask these parents their opinion of the care their child has received.

Ask for a written handbook of policies.

Parental and Guardian Involvement

Ask about opportunities for involvement. From volunteering in person to participating in field trips, see how open a center is to having parental involvement.

See how responsive a staff member is to your questions, concerns, or comments. The best centers will also seek parental feedback and implement those suggestions when applicable.

Does a center encourage two-way discussions about child development? The best centers seek partnerships with parents or guardians as well as effective communication in both verbal and written ways.

Does a center encourage parental visits at any time of the day? The best centers do, displaying total transparency in what they are doing at any given time of the day.

Personal Care Practices

Make sure staff is trained in health and sanitation. Make sure staff washes their hands after each diaper change. Make sure toys are never sticky or dirty. And also make sure food preparation areas are far from diaper-changing areas.

Make sure that everyone on staff practices proper routines and procedures on a daily basis — ensuring consistency for your child.

Ask if the staff is certified in CPR and first aid.

To learn the quality rating of a center you are researching, be sure and visit http://www.abcquality.org/find-a-provider/.

Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.


By ABC Quality Team at 23 Jul 2019, 11:00 AM