What are the indicators of high quality child care?
Several research studies have found that high quality child care programs have certain characteristics in common. These characteristics can help parents make better child care choices for their children because they indicate a much greater likelihood of high quality care. Quality indicators measure the conditions that generally foster a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children. They are:
- Low child/teacher ratios
- Low teacher turnover
- Staff with higher education
- Prior experience and education of the director
- Well-compensated teachers who receive good benefits
- Accreditation or a higher-than-minimum license
Low ratios and low turnover allow teachers to respond to the individual needs of children, to give each child ample attention and to create a strong bond, adding to the child's security. Higher education helps staff and directors understand the needs and development of young children, which helps teachers plan activities for children and interact with them in developmentally appropriate ways. Well-compensated teachers with good benefits change jobs with less frequency, lowering turnover and increasing opportunities for children to create attachments and build relationships. Finally, child care programs with a national accreditation or higher-than-minimum license demonstrate an intent to provide high quality care and have met higher-than-minimum standards to receive the accreditation or license.
When you visit a child care program, use a child care checklist to determine how many quality indicators the program has. If you can answer yes to most or all of the questions on the checklist, your child will have a greater chance of having a successful child care experience.