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What to Watch for When Choosing Child Care

An Idaho child care consultant says you might be sending a future leader to day care, so it's important to pick the facility carefully. (Eduardo Merille/Flickr)
An Idaho child care consultant says you might be sending a future leader to day care, so it's important to pick the facility carefully. (Eduardo Merille/Flickr)
March 14, 2018

POCATELLO, Idaho – How do parents know if a child care facility is right for them?

The answer differs among families, but there are some points to consider.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) says relationships should be the emphasis among children, caregivers and parents.

Parents should also analyze the space. Is it cluttered? Are there toys children can use in different ways, or are children set in front of a TV screen? Is the space safe for children?

Judy Boren is the lead quality child care consultant, for IdahoSTARS, an organization that provides resources to improve child care facilities. She says parents should avoid the so-called underground care providers who aren't licensed.

"People are posting on Facebook, 'I'm willing to watch your child for this fee if you want to come here,'” she relates. “Well, that doesn't assure you that they've had a background check, that they have CPR and first aid, or they know anything about children."

Boren says the assumption is that providers are licensed, but parents should always ask.

IdahoSTARS has professional development programs and offers scholarships to train child care providers. It also has a quality rating system providers can participate in to improve their facilities based on national standards.

NAEYC says children shouldn't be kept to a rigid schedule, and should feel free to explore and play.

Boren recommends parents pick a facility with an open door policy, meaning they can stop by and visit their children at any time, without an appointment.

She also recognizes child care is costly, and says parents who need financial help can get it through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Child Care Program.

Boren stresses it's worth it to get child care right.

"They're going to be taking care of us when their adults,” she points out. “They're going to be taking care of our government and our city, and our presidency.

“And if we can't give them the best that we can give them, then we're doing a disservice. We need to really give the best to our children that we possibly can."

Boren also encourages communities to work with families to make sure they have access to quality care.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID