How to Choose Quality Care
Make an informed decision
Like any parent, your first concerns are for the safety, health, and welfare of your child. Every program will have positive characteristics, but you must decide which things are most important for you and your child, and prioritize accordingly.
Look and listen
You can tell a great deal by observing and listening to what is going on in the classroom or at home.
- Did the children seem happy and were they enjoying activities?
- Did the teachers seem to be loving, nurturing, and responsive to all children in their care?
- Were problems handled promptly and appropriately?
- Did the teachers seem like people you can trust with the health, happiness, and well-being of your child?
- Is this a place where you would feel good about your child spending many hours each day?
If you have any questions or concerns, write them down as they occur to you. Ask for an opportunity to have your questions answered or your concerns addressed.
Pay attention to your instincts
You know your child best. Pay attention to any feelings of uneasiness you may have experienced during site visits or interviews.
- Could you picture your child in this setting?
- Were the toys and activities you observed the kinds your child would enjoy?
- If your child accompanied you on your visit, what was his reaction?
Keep in mind that children respond in their own unique ways to new situations. Also, don’t rule out other factors that could influence your child’s reaction (for example, being hungry, tired, having a natural fear of new people or places). Trust your instincts and your ability to make wise decisions for your child.
When cost is a factor, carefully weigh the “pros” and “cons” of each teacher and facility that you visited. Decide which facility satisfies the greatest number of your priorities at a rate that you can afford. Keep in mind that the highest cost doesn’t always guarantee the best teacher and facility. Likewise, the least expensive rates do not necessarily mean poor teachers and facilities.
A good choice
Now that you have done your homework and some careful thinking, you are ready to make your choice. Remember, selecting and placing your child in an early learning program is just the beginning. You will want to talk to your new teacher often and make occasional visits to ensure that your child is safe and happy and that your decision was the right one.
- Use this link to access Quality Childcare Checklists and more information on choosing quality childcare.
- Search for childcare providers and view their licensing history on the Department of Children and Families website