Finding Quality Child Care–Chapter 1

How to Find a Quality Child Care Program   


It’s time to find child care. You’re going back to work, or starting for the first time. But what about your children?

  • You have read that the experiences children have in the early years are very significant and impact their intellectual and emotional development and future in many ways.
  • You have heard from your friends that what takes place in some child care centers is at best custodial–children are safe–and in some programs can actually be detrimental.

What do you need to know and do to find the program that will nurture your child intellectually and emotionally, that will foster your child’s creativity and independence, honor her individuality and enhance his self esteem?

We will take you step by step through the process of what to look for, where to to find it, what questions to ask and how to evaluate what you see and hear.

  Chapter 1

There are many factors that will ultimately determine the child care program you will choose.  Location, cost, hours of service are among the criteria that you will consider.  At the top of your list will be that your child will be safe from harm, and we will discuss what you should look for and what questions you should ask to ascertain if this is a safe and healthy environment in Chapter 2.

For now let’s consider what are the factors that will nurture your child and support positive emotional, social. physical and cognitive development.  What are the things you want to look for or ask about as you begin your search for a quality program?

  1. What is the philosophy and what are the goals of the preschool or child care program?  A well thought out and defined set of goals and principles provide the road map for the program and enable the staff to know if what they do on a daily basis supports that direction.
  2. Knowledge of child development is basic to knowing what activities to offer and what materials to provide at different ages or stages.  The educational and experiential background of the care givers and teachers is a good beginning indicator of their knowledge and skills.  Look for degrees and/or training in early childhood education and child development.
  3. The philosophy, activities and materials will encourage children to increasingly make choices and decisions as they mature and thereby foster confidence and independence.  The materials are therefore accessible to the children on open shelves and in organized and age appropriate learning centers or areas.   There is adequate time to work/play with these materials.
  4. Much of the children’s time is child directed, although supervised, and the children are primarily involved in individual or small group activities.  This will work well if the teachers have carefully selected the kinds of materials and activities that are appropriate for the children in their class.
  5. Teachers and care givers are warm and interact with the children primarily through asking open ended questions or by making encouraging observations of the children’s actions.   You will see teachers bending down and making eye contact, smiling and using affectionate gestures such as a quick hug.  When a child is upset the staff is calm and comforting.
  6. The schedule encourages exploration and provides time for active and quiet experiences.
  7. The guidance or discipline policy focuses on encouraging the development of self-responsibility.  Verbal children help develop a set of behavioral guidelines, and in times of conflict are involved in resolving the issue as developmentally appropriate.  Redirection is frequently used especially with infants and toddlers.

We will share other things to consider soon.

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