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Helping Idaho Parents Choose Best Child Care

Idaho lacks child care regulations compared to every other state, so it's up to parents to ask the right questions when choosing child care providers. (Anita Peppers/iStockphoto)
Idaho lacks child care regulations compared to every other state, so it's up to parents to ask the right questions when choosing child care providers. (Anita Peppers/iStockphoto)
August 15, 2016

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho ranks 52nd in the country, behind Guam and Puerto Rico, for its lack of child care licensing and regulations, according to the group Child Care Aware of America.

So, just because providers are licensed doesn't mean they're following best practices.

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) has a few tips on choosing the best option for a child.

Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer says the gold standard is a ratio of one adult per three children under age two.

But Idaho allows up to six babies per caregiver, making individual attention tough to get.

"The more child-adult quality interaction that they can get during the day is really, really going to help with their development," Oppenheimer says.

So, she adds, parents should inquire about the supervision ratio. They should also ask if the teachers are certified in CPR and pediatric first aid, and if the facility has a written plan for responding to disasters.

Oppenheimer stresses it's important to look for child care providers and staff who have taken courses in early childhood education and participate in regular professional development.

"In Idaho, we don't require our child care providers or teachers to have any educational background in early childhood development," she states.

The Idaho AEYC has teamed up with the University of Idaho to create the Idaho Stars program, which evaluates child care programs based on whether they follow best practices.

You can check to see if your child's program earned a star rating on the websites for Idaho Stars and for AEYC.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID