Choosing child care that is right for your child is very important and can have long lasting results. Many studies show that birth to age 5 is the most critical stage in a child's growth and learning. As much as 90 percent of the human brain develops in these early years.
How many children are there for each adult?
You want your child to get plenty of attention. The fewer the children for each caregiver, the better the situation for your child. The younger your child, the more important this is. The State of Oklahoma regulates the ratio of children to adults in licensed child care programs.
How many children are in the group?
A small group is usually safer and calmer. The State of Oklahoma regulates the size of groups in licensed child care programs.
What is the caregivers current level of education and training?
Ask about the caregivers' training and education. Caregivers with degrees or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn.
Are the caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills?
Do they attend classes and workshops? The State of Oklahoma requires caregivers to attend a certain amount of training each year in order to be licensed.
How long have the current caregivers been there?
It’s best if children can stay with the same caregiver for at least a year. Caregivers who come and go make it hard on your child. Getting used to new caregivers takes time and energy that could be spent on learning new things.
Health and Safety
Does the program look clean and safe? Are hands washed often? What is the plan in case of emergency or disaster? Is the program licensed?
A licensed program is inspected at least three times a year by DHS for basic health and safety requirements. Most types of child care in Oklahoma must be licensed.
Star Ratings and National Accreditation
What is the star rating and current accreditation?
Licensed centers and homes are rated from one to three stars. Two-and three-star programs have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than basic licensing requirements. Three-star programs are also nationally accredited. Three-star programs can also qualify by meeting Head Start Performance Standards.
Does the caregiver attend to children's needs and give them lots of attention and encouragement?
Look for signs of warm responsive relationships between adults and children. Caregivers should talk to children at their eye level and listen closely to each child.
Opportunities to Learn
Is there daily schedule with planned activities for children as well as hosts of time for free play?
Do caregivers read to children? Good child care programs offer active play and learning activities to help children enter school with the skills they need to succeed.
How can I be involved?
Ask about ways parents can be involved with the program. How will caregivers inform you about activities during your child's day? Good child care programs welcome drop-in visits and parent ideas.
Source Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Selecting Quality Childcare, A Parent's Guide.