Six Indicators of Quality Child Care

According to the Child Care Aware of America, there are six main quality indicators that should be considered when searching for a child care provider.

Group Size – Find out how many children are in the group. Imagine a group of 25 two-year olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 two-year olds with two adults. Both groups have the same adult to child ratio. Typically, smaller groups are better.  When looking at group sizes parents should consider which groups size would be calmer and safer and best suited to their child’s needs.

Ratio – The number of staff required in a child care home or center depends not only on the number of children in that setting but also on the ages of the children. Maintaining an appropriate ratio is key to being able to adequately supervise and interact with young children.

Family Involvement – When taking your child to a child care provider you should ask about their policy on family involvement. A high quality center will have opportunities for you to be involved in activities and regular parent meetings. You should be welcome at the center at any time that your child is in attendence.

Caregiver Education & Staff Turnover – When talking with child care providers, ask them how long the have been in the child care field. Find out about education and training that they have had that makes them qualified to provide care for children. High staff turnover in a child care center can be an indicator that the staff there are under a lot of stress.  If you are talking with a family child care provider you might ask if he/she is part of a support group. You want to be assured that the people who will be caring for your child are well supported with a network of professional colleagues. You also want to know that the staff is knowledgeable about child development and behavior and activities that will help your child acieve their fullest potential.

Health & Safety – Safety is extremely important.  The environment should be child-proofed and free from items that might cause harm to a child. This is true for both indoor and outdoor play areas as well.  There should also be an emphasis on cleanliness. Hand-washing should be emphasized and the space including toys should be well-maintained and clean.

Accreditation – When exploring child care options ask the director if their center is accredited. By becoming accredited child care providers have made a decision to achieve a higher level of quality. They are committed to providing high quality services to children and their families.