Choosing quality child care is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your child. Research has shown that there are long-term positive outcomes for children who begin learning from birth, and for many children, the child care program they attend is an opportunity to learn and set healthy habits for life. It’s often hard to identify high quality child care. You may be wondering; how can I find quality child care? What does a quality child care program look like?
Part of finding a quality program is visiting with the programs and providers you are considering. The following indicators of quality child care are things you can look for and discuss with providers when visiting to help you better judge quality. For more details and a checklist of specific questions you can ask, download our Parent Guide to Finding High Quality Care. The experts in our Parent Services department are also here to answer your questions or further explain the indicators of quality – free of charge. They are available over the phone or in person at our offices, Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.
Indicators of Quality Child Care
Adult to Child Ratio: Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. This helps your child stay properly supervised and get plenty of attention. The younger your child, the more important this is.
Group Size: Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better. Imagine a group of 25 two-year olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 with two adults. Both groups have the same adult to child ratio. Which would be calmer and safer? Which would be more like a family?
Parent Involvement: As a parent, you are the key to quality care. You have the right to drop in any time to observe the program or to see your child. You should feel welcome at all times and feel comfortable when talking with your child care provider.
Turnover: Check how long caregivers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It’s best if children stay with the same provider for at least a year. Providers who come and go make it hard on your child. Getting used to new providers takes time and energy that could be spent learning new things.
Training: Ask about the providers’ training and education. Providers with special training in working with children and/or degrees will be better able to help your child learn. Programs regulated by NYS require providers to receive ongoing training in health & safety, nutrition, child abuse & neglect, and other child development areas to maintain their license or registration. Quality child care programs make training their providers a priority.
Good Health & Safety Practices: Attention to basic health and safety factors is critical to high quality child care and your child’s safety. NYS regulations require that all licensed and registered providers meet basic health & safety standards. Our Parent Guide to Finding Quality Child Care goes into more detail on what to look for and has a helpful checklist of specific health & safety related questions you can ask at your visit.
Registration/License & Accreditation: In NY, legal child care programs are required to have a current license or registration. With only a few exceptions, every program that cares for more than two children three hours or more per day must have a license or registration certificate. When you visit a regulated child care facility, ask to see the license or registration certificate. Providers who work in regulated programs have had extensive background checks, and the programs are inspected by the state to ensure your child’s safety and well-being. Accreditation is a system of recognition for child care programs that voluntary meet standards for child care that are higher than most state requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
Inspection & Compliance History: We recommend you check a program's inspection & compliance history. You can find this on the Office of Children & Family Services’ website. This includes any regulatory violations and current compliance status for those violations. You can file a complaint of a possible regulatory violation in a day care center, group family day care, family day care, or school age child care program by calling Child Care Solutions at (315) 446-1220 or the Syracuse Regional Office at (315) 423-1202.To search for a program's inspection & compliance history: - Visit OCFS's website: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/ccfs_template.asp - Enter program details and click “find day care” - Click this icon for program information, including inspection & compliance history
NYS Office of Children & Family Services: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/infoforparents.asp