Choosing the right child care for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. But knowing where to begin can be daunting, especially for first-time parents who have never navigated the child care landscape.
Collaborative for Children, a Houston-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood learning, operates a free online child care referral service. Its database of child care providers in the Greater Houston area features information such as hours of operation, licensing, ratios, accreditation, and ratings of quality indicators. Here are five steps to finding quality child care:
- Research: Begin your search online with Collaborative for Children’s free database, or call to speak with a parent educator for free. You can search for providers by a variety of criteria based on your priorities, and access licensing information from the state.
- Visit: Visit several child care centers or homes, and more than once. Observe things like caregiver interaction with the children, the ratio of children to caregivers, and the sounds you hear in the classroom. Make announced and unannounced visits, and at different times of day.
- Ask Questions: Talk to the center staff openly about your priorities and concerns. Ask about the training level of caregivers and provider policies. Ask for references you can speak to about their experiences with the center.
- Look for Quality: A quality early child care environment sets the stage for future learning. In fact, 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five. That’s why quality early childhood education is critical to a starting children on a path to success. Collaborative for Children’s child care resource and referral service includes ratings of quality indicators as well as information on participation in the state’s quality rating system or national accreditation.
- Choose and Evaluate: Your research will help you to narrow down your search. Once you enroll your child in care, continue evaluating your selection. Pay attention to the classroom environment, the caregivers’ interaction with your child, your child’s happiness and indications of quality.
You and your child’s care providers want the same thing – the healthy growth and development of your child. Choosing child care is an important decision, but it does not need to be a difficult one. Collaborative for Children’s child care resource and referral service is here to help. Call 713-600-1234 or visit https://www.collabforchildren.org/families/find-child-care.