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Nov 5, 2016

Five Things to Look for in a Quality Childcare Program




By Carissa Knoles, M.A., ECE
Quality Improvement Consultant, Bib to Backpack Team at United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Learning starts long before kindergarten, and quality childcare and preschool programs can help kids succeed in school, work and life. GreatStartToQuality.org makes it easy for families to identify quality child care and preschool, helping them get the best of their child and the most for their money.   

Ask the following questions when considering quality in childcare and preschool programs:

Staff Qualifications and Professional Development
Do caregivers have a college degree? Have they attended or are they taking college classes? Have they obtained a Child Development Associate or Montessori credential, and/or have they participated in training relevant to child development and/or child care topics?  

Family and Community Partnerships
How do caregivers help parents learn more about how their children learn and grow? Do they meet with parents to talk about their children's development? How do program staff let parents know about places in the community that can help them when they need assistance and support children’s transitions to kindergarten and other programs?

Administration and Management 
Does the program have a written contract that they provide to all enrolled families? Are there written expectations for staff, if applicable, and yearly staff evaluations as well as benefits for staff?

Environment 
Is the location free of safety hazards and is the program in good standing with licensing? You can learn more about licensing statuses by clicking here. Also, are nutritionally sound meals offered as well as nutrition education to families?  Do providers track children’s health?

Curriculum and Instruction
Do providers have a mission statement for their program, follow a flexible daily schedule and use curriculum that helps them make decisions about the daily routine? Do providers use a research-based screening and assessment tool and share information with parents at parent-teacher conferences throughout the year?

The moments between the bib and the backpack make all the difference for school readiness and lifelong success. Let’s make them count by choosing high quality early learning.  Visit www.bibtobackpack.org for more resources to empower you to give your children a great start!

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