HEALTH MIND & BODY
Evaluating child care options
Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:00 PM
Child care requires more of parents than just finding an opening at a facility or a trusted friend to watch a child during a day of work.
What does high-quality child care look like?
A high-quality, early-childhood program provides a safe and nurturing environment while promoting the physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of young children. Whether the program is half-day or full-day, parents should see the following:
Frequent, positive, warm interactions among adults and children.
Planned learning activities appropriate to children's ages and abilities, such as block construction, painting, small-group activities, dress-up and dramatic play - all happening at once.
A wide variety of age-appropriate materials available for children's use.
Specially trained teachers, with enough adults available to respond to children's needs.
A healthy and safe environment.
Nutritious meals and/or snacks.
Regular communication with parents, who are always welcome to visit
Ongoing, systematic evaluation of children, staff and program needs.
Low turnover rate of child care staff.
From matching a child's attitude to the child care setting to parents checking out the level of care given at locations, the child care search may prove daunting. The Child Care Resource and Referral program through the Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corporation helps parents by providing child care information and help when looking for the right child care provider for the family.
The multiple-county organization helps parents with their decisions by providing informational brochures and checklists on the organization's website, www.sieoc.org, to find the right fit for children in area child care settings.
The Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corporation also features a listing of area child care providers who participate in the statewide voluntary ratings program, Paths to Quality.
"(The program) kind of helps the parent know what they are looking for before they go out there," outreach specialist Amber Johnson said of Paths to Quality.
The program shows the different levels of child care from basic health and safety needs met at the most basic level to a set learning curriculum for children and national accreditation at the highest level.
"We have had parents start to ask for the Paths to Quality (ratings)," Johnson said.
Other ways to rate local child care facilities that aren't participating in the Paths to Quality program is to take a list of what parents are looking for in child care when visiting the facility, she said.
The Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corporation also provides information about each type of child care provider to allow parents to choose the correct provider. Explanations listed on the next page, which are provided on the organization's website, allow parents to know what kind of services and what regulations caregivers follow based on the provider's classification.
Child care providers are separated into six categories based
on the services they provide and the number of children they serve.
1. LLEP - A Legally Licensed Exempt Care is limited to no more than five unrelated children at any one time. Operating a child care home that is required to be licensed by Indiana code, without a license, is a class B misdemeanor (Indiana Code IC 12-3-2-17).
2. Certified Providers - certified to accept Indiana Child Development Fund Vouchers- can care for up to five unrelated children at any one time. In addition, they must meet the 17 provider eligibility standards that the state stipulates for reimbursement by the Indiana Child Development Fund.
3. Class 1 Licensed Home - A child care home that serves any combination of full-time and part-time children, not to exceed at any one time 12 children plus three children during the school year only who are enrolled in at least grade one. The addition of three school-age children may not occur during a break that exceeds four weeks (i.e. summer vacation).
4. Class 2 Licensed Home - Providers who have been licensed and in good standing for a minimum of one year.
5. Child Care Center - A facility that is licensed by the State Division of Family and Children to care for children of specified age groups during designated hours. Child care centers must maintain minimum requirements as established by the state to meet children's basic needs. Many of these facilities offer a full range of educational experiences for the children in their care. Director must have a college degree with experience in Early Childhood Development, including 156 credit hours of Early Childhood Education. Lead Teacher must have a CDA (Child Development Associate) or higher in Early Childhood Education.
6. Unlicensed Registered Child Care Ministry - Unlicensed Registered Child Care Ministries offer child care operated by a church or religious organization on a non-sectarian basis as a service to the community. Child care programs located in a church may choose to follow child care center regulations or to operate as an Unlicensed Registered Child Care Ministry. Regulations for Unlicensed Registered Child Care Ministries are monitored by the state and there are no staff-child ratios.