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Choosing child care: A Northern Kentucky focus

August 31, 2015

Quality Child Care Tips

Julie Witten, director of 4C Kentucky Services, wrote this column which was published in the Community Recorder newspapers.

Selecting a reliable and quality child care program can be overwhelming. With more than 200 licensed child care programs in Northern Kentucky to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.

But taking time to make an informed choice will benefit you and your child in the long run—you will have peace of mind while at work and your child will have a nurturing environment in which to grow and thrive. Much of a child’s developmental and emotional foundation is formed in their early years, so selecting a quality program is key to their success in school and life.

For more than 40 years, 4C for Children has helped thousands of families choose child care. We maintain a database that contains key program information about Northern Kentucky and Ohio child care programs. This information – STAR rating, cost, location and hours of operation – is used to help parents find viable options for quality child care.

Parents often assume that all programs are held to the same quality standards. It’s true that all child care programs have minimal health and safety licensing, but quality standards vary by program. In Kentucky, the STARS for Kids Now quality rating system helps define a program’s level of quality. Programs can earn from one up to four STARS and are rated by Kentucky’s Division of Child Care.

In addition to STAR ratings, here are some other important things for parents to look for when choosing child care programs:

Staff training: Check to see if staff have training in CPR, first aid and child abuse prevention. It is recommended that staff participate in training for the age group of the children in their care. Many directors and lead teachers also have degrees in early education or have a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA). Higher staff education impacts the quality of care.

Your child’s learning: Staff should use age-appropriate strategies and materials to support the following skills that further children’s development: self help (feeding, dressing and toileting), fine motor (grabbing items, using scissors and crayons), gross motor (jumping, climbing and balancing), social and emotional (sharing, making friends and expressing feelings) and cognitive (problem solving, counting, etc.)

Healthy and safe environment: Pay attention to wellness and hygiene policies and practices related to diaper changing, toileting, feeding, administering medications and managing illness. A safe environment means compliance with regulations surrounding background checks, fire safety, crib safety and use of car seats and seat belts.

Family involvement: Quality programs engage parents. As parents, are you encouraged to visit, invited to attend activities and given the opportunity to provide input about the care of your children?

For individualized help selecting a child care program, contact a 4C Parent Specialist at 859-781-3500, ext. 1330, or visit 4cforchildren.org/parents.

Warning signs

Here are some warning signs to watch out for when selecting child care.

  • Child care staff have limited attention to interaction with children.
  • There is a regular turnover in staff.
  • The television is often on.