WASHINGTON, DC - For parents, choosing who cares for their children is one of the most important, and difficult, decisions they have to make. Child care options and the variability in licensing requirements, state regulations, and program quality ratings can be overwhelming.
That's why the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) has released a new publication to help parents identify high-quality child care. A national parent poll conducted earlier this year by NACCRRA identified that parents' leading concern about child care is quality. At the same time, many parents choose child care programs based primarily upon looking around the facilities and talking with the caregivers.
While gut instincts are very important, NACCRRA recognizes that many parents wish they had more information on which to base their child care decisions. To help parents ask the right questions, NACCRRA has created an easy-to-use booklet, Is This the Right Place for My Child?: 38 Research-Based Indicators of High-Quality Child Care.
"The quality of care a child receives during the first five years of life is critical because 90 percent of brain development occurs during those years," says Linda K. Smith, NACCRRA's Executive Director. "With nearly 12 million children under the age of 5 in the United States in child care every week, it is essential that their parents have the resources they need to find high-quality care."
Each of the 38 questions outlined in Is This the Right Place for My Child? is based on research about what is important to children's health, safety, and development. The booklet includes a checklist of questions for parents to ask when considering child care programs. This checklist can be duplicated and used for each program that parents visit. Unlike most guidelines for selecting child care, Is This the Right Place for My Child? explains why each question is important and how it relates to the quality of care.
Key questions included in the booklet are: Have the adults been trained to care for children? Will my child be able to grow and learn? Is this a safe and healthy place for my child? Is the program well-managed? Does the program work with parents? Additional questions within each of these broad categories walk parents through a thorough assessment of the quality of child care programs.
The booklet also points parents toward additional resources to help assess the quality of child care programs, including information on child care program accreditation and state quality rating systems.
To learn more about finding high-quality child care, visit www.childcareaware.org and www.naccrra.org, where you can order a print copy or download a free electronic copy of Is This the Right Place for My Child?.