STEP 2: Check Credentials, License and Caregiver Training
Having a child care provider with a degree or training in child development helps many parents feels at ease. But if a family member, friend or neighbor is caring for your child, this caregiver can also support your child’s physical, social and brain growth. They can do different activities such as talking, singing, telling stories, reading books, playing games together and limiting TV. The important aspect is that the person caring for your child is able to connect with him/her and create a fun and exciting space where your child can explore and learn new information that is age appropriate.
You may also suggest your caregiver take some classes to learn more about child development and child care. There are many different child care training programs, which cover everything from nutrition, family connections, safety, play activities, first aid and CPR.
As you research your child care options, be sure to ask providers if they have any of the following:
- License: Licensed child care providers follow rules about health and safety and have teacher training. They must have a fingerprint check, background check, and have first aid and CPR training. It is important to know if the day or homecare location you choose is licensed. This will assure your child is in a safe and healthy place that has been licensed and monitored by the California Department of Social Services. However, a license does not guarantee quality.
- Caregiver Training and Education: Good training and education allow providers to know your child’s interests, abilities and cultural needs. Ask what child care experience and/or training the child care providers have. Find out if they have a certificate or college degree in child development, early childhood education or a related field. Also, find out if they have first aid training and know infant and child CPR in case of an emergency.
- Accreditation: Accreditation is optional but it means the providers exceed the minimum requirements for licensing. They have taken the extra steps to reach the highest quality in child care. Although only 10 percent of America’s preschools have an accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), it is still important to check guidelines.
- Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS): A QRIS is a set of ratings from 1 to 5 to rate overall program quality. Similar to ratings you see at restaurants or other services, child care centers are given a rating based on level of quality. These ratings help parents identify quality programs and guide child care providers in making improvements. Ask if the child care center is participating in a QRIS program like Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) or Steps to Excellence Program (STEP).
Having quality child care gives parents a feeling of comfort knowing that their child is not only being taken care of but also that the child is receiving information, support and encouragement to learn.