Finding Quality Child Care
Finding Quality Child Care PDF Print E-mail

By choosing high-quality child care, you give your child a head start on developing a strong mind, body and spirit, and a better chance of becoming a productive adult. So, when you're looking for child care, take your time, review your choices and ask plenty of questions. The following five (5) steps may help you find the quality child care that best meets your needs:

1. Look

Identify your needs and priorities. Are you eligible for child care fee subsidy? How much can you afford to pay for care? What hours of care do you need? What location works best for you - near your child's school, your home, your work? Start with telephone interviews to narrow down your choices then, visit several homes or centres and note your first impressions. It is a good idea to visit more than once and to stay as long as possible so that you can get a feel for what happens there during the day. Even after your child is attending a centre, you should continue to monitor the care. Does it appear safe for the children? Do the staff enjoy talking and playing with the children? Are there plenty of toys and learning materials within the children's reach?

2. Listen

Do the children sound happy and involved? Are the staffs' voices cheerful and patient? If it is too quiet, there might not be enough activity. If it is too noisy, it could indicate a lack of control.

3. Count

Make sure that there are enough staff to provide individual attention to each child. The younger the children, the lower the child-to-staff ratio should be.

4. Ask

What is the background of all staff? You want to make sure that the people who care for your children have the knowledge and experience to give them the attention they need. Do they have special training? Quality childcare providers and teachers will be happy to answer these questions. Don't forget to discuss hours, fees, discipline, sickness, vacations and the involvement of parents.

5. Be informed

Is your caregiver involved in community efforts to improve the quality of childcare, for example, Raising the Bar on Quality Child Care? How can you get involved?

How do you know if your caregiver is providing quality child care?

Caregivers should:

  • understand how children grow and learn.
  • be affectionate and responsive, open and informative.
  • provide a stable and stimulating environment.
  • seek out community resources and support.
  • be willing to develop common goals and welcome the parents' ideas and visits.

Childcare settings should offer:

  • a clean, safe, secure setting.
  • a caring, learning environment.
  • a small number of children per adult.
  • space for quiet and active times, indoor and outdoor play.
  • a balance of interesting activities.
  • a flexible, yet predictable, daily routine.
  • a variety of easily available toys and equipment.
  • nutritional meals and snacks.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to:

  • commit to ongoing communication with your child and your child's caregiver.
  • take time to hear about your child's day.
  • agree on mutual expectations.
  • voice any concerns.
  • express appreciation.
  • live up to the agreement you've made.