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National Child Care Association Urges Parents to Carefully Screen and Select Child Care

"Week of the Young Child" Offers Time to Revisit Elements of Quality Care


National Child Care Association


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ATLANTA, April 19, 1999 -- Ask working parents to name the most important decision they've made about their child's welfare, and one answer will surface time and again: Choosing a quality child care provider. Licensed child care providers are working to ensure parents are asking the right questions -- and using the right criteria -- to select quality care for their children.

During Week of the Young Child, the National Child Care Association (NCCA) and its member organizations are encouraging the 25 million working parents whose children need care during working hours to carefully review their options when choosing their child care arrangement. Licensing guidelines and regulations ensure that child care programs -- including center-based care -- can provide a safe and high-quality environment and better experiences for children.

"We believe that Week of the Young Child is a time for everyone concerned about the issue of preschool and child care to reflect on the needs of our young children -- play and education in a safe, nurturing environment," said Lynn White, NCCA executive director. "Our membership of licensed private child care and preschool centers is committed to educating parents and community leaders about the importance of high-quality, affordable, licensed child care."

The NCCA recommends that parents ask questions about specific elements of child care centers, such as: staff to child ratios, reputation of the center, child safety provisions, the presence of trained and/or certified staff, and the components of curriculum and programs offered by the center or school. (See "Child Care Choices" checklist that follows).

"Child care and preschool centers offer young children healthy experiences and interactions with groups of kids," said White. "And since research indicates that brain development occurs before most children begin preschool, it is important that children have the benefit of licensed providers educating and caring for them."

Week of the Young Child, sponsored by The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is designed to focus attention on the importance of the early years for children's learning and all aspects of development.

The NCCA is a professional trade association focused on helping parents and children work through the issues involved in selecting quality child care. As an alliance of childhood care and education professionals and owners, NCCA holds a singular position in the United States as the only organization representing the licensed, private childhood care and education community.

Child Care Choices Checklist

The following checklist may help guide parents when evaluating and selecting a child care center.


  • Is the atmosphere warm, cheerful and comfortable?

  • Is the center clean and well-organized?

  • Do the children seem happy and relaxed?

  • What is the ratio of caregivers to children?

  • Are the toys and equipment clean and in good repair?

  • Is there enough space for activities, or do the children seem crowded?


  • Are the programs developmentally appropriate?

  • Are the programs geared to meet the needs of children with different abilities and learning styles?


  • Are there visible safety provisions, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.?

  • Are there written emergency procedures in place?

  • Are menus posted? Are the snacks and meals nutritious and appetizing?

  • Are health guidelines posted?

  • Is there a sanitary area for changing diapers or clothes?


  • Do staff members interact well with the children?

  • Are the staff members calm and friendly?

  • Are the teachers trained or certified in child care or education?

  • Are staff members trained in CPR and first aid?

  • Does the center obtain reference checks before hiring staff?

  • Does the center complete criminal records checks before hiring staff?

    Parent/Center Interaction

  • Are parents encouraged to visit or "drop by" any time they choose?

  • Will the staff provide regular reports about children's activities or progress?

  • Will the staff report any accidents or problems in writing?

  • Will the staff keep written records of children's allergies or medical problems?

  • How does the center handle disciplinary issues?

  • Is there a policy for releasing children to people other than parents or guardians?
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