How to Find a Quality Childcare Center for Your Child

12.07.2016
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9 Comments
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Trusting your young child to another caregiver — whether at a church, local child development center, or someone’s home — is an overwhelming decision.

Because early experiences lay such a crucial foundation for a child’s life, evidence shows that finding a quality child center is a key component of school readiness. We want to help make that decision easier for you by providing you with:

  1. An understanding of a “quality” center
  2. A childcare checklist
  3. The right questions to ask
  4. A link to find local childcare centers
  5. Ways to find affordable local childcare for low-income parents

These are 5 key questions many parents have about finding childcare:

1. What is a “high-quality” childcare center?

“Quality” means that every child is well taken care of in a safe and nurturing environment, but it also means that every child has the potential to start school ready. Quality child care centers provide foundations in cognitive areas, gross motor skills, and social development.

 

2. What practical things do I need to consider when finding a local childcare center?

This checklist may cover some areas you hadn’t thought of yet.

childcare checklist

Checklist provided by our partners at Greenville County First Steps.

 

3. When visiting a childcare center, what should I keep in mind and what specific questions should I ask?

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Is the provider licensed?

If they are, they are required to display this license.

Are the staff certified in First Aid/CPR?

This is not necessarily a requirement, but is the best way to ensure children are safe.

Does the provider have any licensing violations?

SC Child Care lists violations, and the resolution, for all licensed providers on their website. An individual violation may not be a deal breaker. (Staff sometimes have bad days.) The main thing to look for is what type of violation (was it safety related, or paperwork related), and was the violation resolved?

What are the staff : child ratios?

Typically, ratios range in infant rooms from 1 adult to 6 children to 1 adult to 4 children (depending on what other certifications the center meets). Ratios for toddlers and preschools are higher. You can check ratio requirements for your age group at SC Child Care.

Is the environment welcoming, safe, and nurturing?

We encourage families to “test drive” centers. Visit during the day, when children are there. Do they staff seem engaged? Are the children happy?

What sort of curriculum, accreditation, and national models do they follow?

While a few centers are NAEYC accredited (the gold star of childcare quality), others follow faith-based curriculum, or build their program around national or international standards. Find the program that suits your needs.

 

4. How can I find childcare providers in my area?

SC Child Care provides a link to search for child care providers using your zip code.

 

5. My income prevents me from finding affordable child care. What options are available?

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1. One option to consider is SHARE Head Start.

SHARE Head Start and Early Head Start are committed to providing quality comprehensive early childhood and family development services at no charge to preschool children, infants and toddlers, their families, and pregnant women.

Click to view or download their brochures in English and in Spanish. Brochures describe what documents parents need to provide and also the contact information for SHARE’s upstate childcare centers.

2. Another option is an ABC Voucher through SC Child Care. Visit the link to learn about ABC vouchers and to see if you might qualify.

3. If you apply for an ABC Voucher and are denied, Pickens County First Steps provides a limited number of Childcare Tuition Scholarships, generously made possible through United Way of Pickens County.

Click here to view or download the 2016-2017 Childcare Tuition Assistance Application. You may also contact Tyla Hill who oversees our scholarship assistance program: thill at scfirststeps dot org, or call 864-654-3000 if you have additional questions.

4. Contact the SC Childcare Resource and Referral Network. They help parents choose care that is based on the family’s individual needs. They can also review a family’s financial assistance options and potential eligibility for child care programs.

 


Additional Resources:

*SC Child Care is devoted to early care and education in the state of SC. They have a comprehensive and user-friendly website.

*SC Childcare Resource & Referral Network provides guidance by phone, in person, and in other ways, such as the internet, that are tailored to each individual family.

*Our partners at Greenville County First Steps have provided this link that allows you to tour different areas of a typical, high quality child development center.

If there are questions we haven’t answered, let us know in the comments, by e-mail, or on social media. 

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Special thanks to our friends at Greenville County First Steps for the checklist, specific questions, and virtual tour! Free images provided by Pixabay. 
By Marian Vischer, Communications Director

9 responses on “How to Find a Quality Childcare Center for Your Child

  1. In your article, you stated that typically, ratios range in infant rooms from 1 adult to 6 children to 1 adult to 4 children (depending on what other certifications the center meets). My wife and I have been trying to find a place that we can take our daughter to while we are at work. I wonder if the licenses that are needed depend on the state we live in.

    • Derek, our apologies for the delayed response. We have received a number of spam comments recently and your comment got lost among them. Licenses do vary by state. Child Care Aware of America has an interactive map of the United States that gives state-by-state requirements for child care licensing, available for viewing at Naccrra.org. The National Association for the Education of Young Children is an organization that educates child care providers in every state and issues accreditation to programs nationwide that adhere to their high standards. More information about the standards, and a list of NAEYC-accredited programs, is available at Naeyc.org.

  2. Jenna Hunter says:

    I am needing to find a great child care service since my sister’s bachelorette party is this weekend. It was great to know that one can check ratio requirements for your age group. I will be sure that my child is with children of her age.

  3. I agree that you should look for a daycare staff that is encouraging and welcoming for your child. It’s important that you not only feel safe leaving your child under someone else’s care, but that they feel safe as well. I also think it’s wise to look out for how your child may respond to certain staff members to see if they will be a good personality fit for your child.

  4. Scott says:

    I like that you point out that it is a good idea to find a daycare with a staff that is First Aid and CPR certified. I can see why this would help you feel more at peace should something happen to them. You could follow up by asking them how often they get recertified and review the material. That way you have an idea of how up to date they are.

  5. Currently, I am looking for a facility that can care for my infant twin daughters. It’s important that they are in a reliable and safe environment. As you mentioned, looking at the staff to child ratio can be a great indicator of the attention they will receive.

  6. Jade Brunet says:

    My sister thinks that going back to work will financially help her family and is deciding whether or not child care is a good idea for her young daughter. It is good to know that before committing to a specific service, one should find if the company is licensed. I did not know that services were required to display their licenses. My sister will have to visit several child care facilities to find if they are licensed and decide for herself how she feels about leaving her daughter to be cared for there.

  7. I didn’t realize that looking at the staff : child ratios can help you determine if there will be enough supervision for your child. My sister just had her first son last month. Hopefully, this article can help her find a location that will give her son the care he needs to be safe and comfortable.

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