Parents want to trust that child-care providers will give the best care possible for their children while they are at work. To make trusting good people are watching your children, it is important to ask the right questions. Sonia M. Toledo, Vice President of Youth Development at the YMCA of Greater Hartford, which operates day care centers throughout the region, has the right questions parents can ask when seeking a childcare provider.
Q. What is a quality program?
A. A quality child-care program has strong safety procedures, clean and colorful facilities, caring adults, a consistent daily routine, and activities for developmental growth and learning. A quality program has regular communication with parents about their children’s daily actions and developmental progress. A quality program has opportunities for parents to participate in activities and events to build relationships with other parents. Quality programs offer information and resources to parents to support them in understanding children’s physical, emotional, social, and cognitive developmental needs. Good programs offer resources and information to parents on health, community events, education, recreational activities for children, and family support centers.
Here are the questions parents should ask.
1. Is the child-care program licensed by the state and how often does the center get inspected by the Department of Public Health?
Find out if the Department of Public Health monitors the child-care center yearly and does spot inspections a couple of times a year. The child-care regulations have rigid safety guidelines. A quality child-care center is one that is confident they have good policies and procedures in place to pass all the Department of Public Health guidelines and such a place welcomes any questions about their license. Most good programs have their license posted and the regulations available for a parent to review at any time.
2. What is the daily routine for the children?
A steady routine is important for a child’s development. You want to know that children have regular opportunities to rest, eat, play, and learn. The morning and pickup transitions are very important for a child’s good adjustment to a child-care center.
3. What are the teacher credentials?
Every parent should know that all child-care workers must have regular training and development. What’s more, the head teacher must either be a certified teacher or have a certain amount of college credits to lead a classroom. Sometimes staff have years of experience working with children but they should also have regular workshops and training to keep up with the most current best practices for working with children.
4. What do you teach the children?
A parent must understand that a child-care center is not just for caring for your child while you are at work; it also must support the development and growth of your child. Children spend a lot of time in the child-care center. They are continuously learning and growing emotionally, physically, and mentally. When you ask about teaching, listen for the director to share that the curriculum focuses on all the developmental needs of the children as well as education or play.
5. Is your center accredited by a national organization?
If the child-care center is accredited, it demonstrates that it believes in improving their service to meet high quality standards. On top of the state coming to inspect yearly, a national organization will send a professional who is trained to observe quality child-care practices in daycare centers. The main national accrediting organization is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). A center that is accredited by NAEYC demonstrates that they are interested in continuous improvement and believes in providing the best service to your child.
For more information about what determines a quality child-care center, visit the NAEYC website. This site lists accredited programs and more information about what to look for when choosing a child-care program for your child.
Sonia Toledo, Vice President of Youth Development for the YMCA of Greater Hartford, can be reached at 860-522-9622 x2397 or at email at firstname.lastname@example.org.