Selecting the right early care and education setting for their family is one of the most challenging and important decisions parents face. What exactly does quality child care look like?
Using the Quality Matters rating criteria and framework, here are the top seven elements of quality to look for or ask child care providers about when selecting quality child care for your child:
- Teacher-Child Interactions: Providers that interact positively with the kids in their care.
- Ratio and Group Size: Small group sizes and a small number of kids to every adult.
- Learning Activities: A mix of creative, fun and educational activities that are right for a child’s age and help them learn new skills.
- Staff: Warm and knowledgeable staff who have a lot of training and rarely quit. Providers have taken classes or earned degrees in Early Childhood Education.
- Environment: A rich learning environment with varied materials, activities and routines. Areas are healthy, clean and safe.
- Program (or Curriculum): Providers use a curriculum to meet learning needs and may hold parent-teacher conferences.
- Child Health & Development: Providers make sure children receive health screenings and that children are developing on track.
Kids who attend quality early learning programs do better in life. That’s the message of a new campaign we’re co-sponsoring to educate parents about the importance of selecting quality child care for their children.
The campaign, called Quality Matters, also publicly launches Contra Costa County’s new system to rate and improve the level of quality licensed child care programs provide to young children. First 5 Contra Costa, the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and the Contra Costa Child Care Council are sponsoring the campaign.
“The important message to families is that quality matters when they choose a child care setting for their child. Research shows that children in quality child care are more successful academically and in life,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “Quality Matters is improving the quality of child care in our county and will provide parents with tools they need to identify quality programs.”
When Andre, a preschooler with Down syndrome and delayed communication skills, was struggling with outbursts and uncooperative behavior at his Head Start preschool program, his teachers turned to the Inclusion Program for support.
First 5 Contra Costa allocates $330,000 to the Inclusion Program, which is run by the Contra Costa Child Care Council and helps children with special needs succeed in typical child care settings. In the program, Inclusion Facilitators visit children in their child care setting and provide coaching, training, and specialized equipment for teachers. Parents also receive support to ensure consistency between home and early care settings. Continue reading
We know that when parents read aloud with their children regularly, children’s vocabulary increases and they are more prepared for kindergarten. But for children with special needs or disabilities, reading together is not always so simple. The type of story, its illustrations, how the pages feel, or the way the story is told make a big difference.
To ensure children with special needs enjoy books and the positive experience reading with an adult brings, Ange Burnett, the Coordinator of the Contra Costa Child Care Council Inclusion Project, offers these tips:
1. Not all books are appropriate for all children. When you choose books to adapt, consider every part of that book, from color to content. Pay attention to the story theme and the illustrations. Look at the print size, book size, and even the texture of the cover or pages. Continue reading