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Choosing Quality Childcare

Choosing a good program for your child will help prepare him or her for success in kindergarten and beyond. But how do you pick the right one?

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Before making any decisions, it’s important that you visit the childcare facility you are considering. See what kind of feeling you get from the program’s environment and employees, and ask questions! The more informed you are, the better. Below are some questions to consider. Feel free to add on any other questions you think would be helpful.

  • What training does the staff have in infant/toddler/child development?
  • Is there a primary caregiver for my child?
  • Are the ratios and group size appropriate for my child’s age?
  • Does the caregiver use straightforward, simple words to talk with my child?
  • Is TV on much of the day?
  • Are activities and schedules explained to my child?
  • Are toys and materials well organized so my child can choose what interests her?
  • Is this caregiver able to accommodate the special needs of my child?
  • Does the environment accommodate the special needs of my child?
  • Does this caregiver respect the language, culture and values of my family?
  • Do the caregiver and I agree on discipline? Weaning? Toileting? Feeding?
  • Can this person handle conflicts without losing patience, shaming a child or frequently displaying anger?
  • Does the caregiver enjoy children?
  • Am I welcome to drop in at any time?
  • Will my child feel good about coming here?
  • Is the environment sanitary and safe?
  • Is the place appealing with comfortable lighting and an acceptable noise level?
  • Is the childcare program licensed by the state or local government?
  • Is the childcare program accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association of Family Child Care?
  • Are the caregivers certified by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition with a Child Development Associates degree credential for infant/toddler caregivers or an equivalent credential that addresses comparable competencies (such as an associates or bachelors degree)?

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Explore some of the links below to find out more about childcare.

National Child Care Information Center

Head Start and Early Head Start are nation-wide programs dedicated to helping the children of low-income families develop the academic, social, and emotional skills they will need for school. The Head Start Bureau offers information on what programs and services are available, as well as ways to find programs in your area.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is an organization that, among other things, has set up a national accreditation system designed to set professional standards for early childhood programs. Visit their site to find an NAEYC accredited program near you.

2-1-1 Idaho Careline is a free statewide service designed to link people to local health related services ranging from pre-natal care to emergency housing resources to Medicaid resources. Their website allows you to search their database for programs and services in your area.

A new Web site from Success by Six has many articles on child development, brain development and early learning

Parents as Teachers is a program designed to educate and support parents from pregnancy through the first day of kindergarten. It focuses on the idea that parents are a child's first and most important teachers.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare contains information on all the many programs it offers, including programs for childcare. For even more specialized information, visit Idaho Child, a site affiliated with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. It has resources for everything from immunizations, to preventing pregnancy, to children with special needs, including the Early Childhood Information Clearinghouse, an entire site dedicated to early childhood information, articles, and hundreds of related links.

The Governor's Coordinating Council On Children and Families site connects you to information on the Council's different task forces, as well as general information and articles about what the Council is and what it has been doing.

The Idaho Training Clearinghouse

The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Articles on early childhood development programs

"Sophisticated Day Care Includes Parent-Teacher Conferences for Infants, Tots" Michele M. Melendez, Newhouse News Service , March 30, 2005.

"Parents need help judging child care quality" Nina Brook, The State , March 24, 2005.

"Choosing the right preschool for your child" Vince Gallagher, Capital News 9 , September 1, 2004.