How to Choose High-Quality Child Care

Age-Specific Quality Indicators: What to Look for

Finding quality care for your child is a very important task. These checklists give examples of specific things to look for depending on the age of your child and the type of child care setting in which they will be placed.

Regardless of your child’s age or the type of program you select, here are six quality indicators to look for:

  1. Professional Development. All early childhood professionals are required to participate in CPR, first aid and child abuse prevention training. In addition it is recommended that professionals participate in child development training that pertains to the age group of children in their care. Many directors and lead teachers possess a Bachelors or Associates degree in early education; where providers may have their Child Development Credential (CDA). More or higher education definitely impacts the quality of care. Read about the state regulations for child care in Ohio and Kentucky to learn more about professional development and other requirements.
  2. Child Development. Programs support children’s development by using age-appropriate strategies and having age-appropriate equipment for all children in their care. This includes availability of supplies and ways that the program teaches children self help skills (feeding, dressing and toileting), fine motor skills (grabbing items, using scissors and crayons), gross motor skills (jumping, climbing and balancing), social and emotional skills (sharing, making friends and expressing feelings) and cognitive skills (problem solving, counting, etc.)
  3. Healthy and Safe Environment. Attention to wellness and hygiene should be present in policies and practices related to diaper changing, toileting, feeding, cleanliness and managing illness. Clear practices for administering medications should also be present. A safe environment complies with regulations related to: background checking, fire safety, crib safety and use of car seats and seat belts.
  4. Family Involvement. Quality programs employ strategies to engage parents. In these programs parents are encouraged to visit, invited to attend activities and are given the opportunity to provide input into programming and the care of their children. Parents are also provided child development and parenting resources and connected to community services as needed.
  5. Quality Rated. State quality rating systems are voluntary; programs that choose to increase their rating are dedicated to offering quality care. The more stars, the higher the quality!
    • Kentucky’s All STARS is a 5-star rating system
  6. Warning Signs.
    • Limited attention to interaction with children.
    • Staff who care for children change often.
    • TV is on a lot.


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