Identifying Quality Care

Learn to identify the characteristics of quality child care programs

When considering a child care program, whether it is a center-based provider or a family home, it is likely that your search criteria includes several factors: child safety, cost, location, hours of operation, and curriculum. All of these factors are extremely important, but what about some of the components that are not as easy to see or find out such as are the children participating in age-appropriate learning?

What does high-quality child care look like?

  • Teachers are engaging children of all ages in learning activities that are appropriate for their age.
  • Teachers are warm, responsive, respectful and empathetic to the children in their care.
  • The classroom fosters independence and is a language-rich environment.
  • Indoor play areas and learning centers in the classroom should be easily distinguishable and offer objects and combinations of socio-dramatic play that is appropriate for the age group.
  • Children have access to a safe outdoor space where they can move and be in the natural world.
  • The child care program should have good leadership that supports the teachers and parents.
  • The program should require teachers to have formal education and training in early childhood education that allows them to lead learning activities for various ages.
  • Teachers have opportunities for continued professional development and resources for quality improvement.
  • Programs should be staffed for low teacher-child ratios to enable teachers to focus on meaningful interactions with the children and their individual needs.

High-quality child care matters because . . .

  • Children need responsive and interactive care that complements parental care especially during the first three years of life to support positive brain development and establish the foundation for all future learning.
  • High-quality experiences promote children’s social, emotional, physical, communication, and cognitive development.
  • Decades of research have clearly shown that there are many short- and long-term effects for children who have received quality care in the early years: high-quality learners are less likely to need special education services, are more likely to graduate high school and attend college, are less likely to participate in juvenile crime, use drugs or have a teen pregnancy, and less likely to depend on government assistance.
  • Children enter kindergarten ready to learn!

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Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions your family will make. With more than 5,000 state licensed and monitored child care programs to choose from, begin your search at or call (877) 255-4254 to let trusted experts help you.