Agenda for Children

How to Find Quality Care

1. Start Early

Start looking as far in advance as you can. No matter what type of care you are considering—a child care center, care in someone’s home, or a school-based program—finding the right child care option can take some time.

2. Make a call

Begin your search by calling your local experts—your Child Care Resource & Referral agency (CCR&R). CCR&Rs can give you the facts about child care and a list of child care options in your area that meet your needs. If you are looking for child care in Southeast Louisiana, Agenda for Children is your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.  Call us at 1-800-486-1712 to receive a referral or use our online search option.

Make sure to ask the referral specialist these questions:

3. Visit and Ask Questions

When you visit child care centers or family child care homes, consider these key indicators of quality:

Adult to Child Ratio

Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. You want your child to get plenty of attention. The younger your child, the more important this is. The experts at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that babies need an adult to child ratio of no more than 1 adult for 3 or 4 infants, while most 4-year-olds can do well with a ratio of one adult for 8-10 children. In general, Louisiana law allows centers to have higher child:staff ratios than what is recommended by NAEYC.

If you choose a licensed child care center, the center must have child to staff ratios of no more than:

Ages of ChildrenClass A RatioClass B Ratios*
Infants under 12 months 5:1 6:1
One year old 7:1 8:1
Two year old 11:1 12:1
Three year old 13:1 14:1
Four year old 15:1 16:1
Five year old 19:1 20:1
Six year old and up 23:1 25:1

*Note that the minimum ratios reported here apply to Class B centers serving 11 or more children.

If you choose a family child care home, the child to adult ratio should be no more than six children to one adult. Many programs choose to keep lower child to staff ratios than are required by law, so be sure to ask about it. 

Group Size

Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better for your child. NAEYC recommends that babies need a group size of no more than 6-8 in a room. Four-year-olds should be in a group of no more than 16-20 children. Louisiana does not currently regulate group size in child care centers.

Accreditation

Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Accredited programs have voluntarily met standards for child care that are higher than state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Child Care are two prominent organizations that provide accreditation.

Quality Rating

If the program is a licensed child care center, find out if it is participating in Quality Start.  Quality Start is Louisiana’s voluntary star rating system for child care. Centers may earn up to five stars based on program quality, staff credentials, and teacher to child ratios. Visit the Quality Start site for more information. As a parent, you may even be eligible to receive an enhanced tax credit on your Louisiana state income tax if you choose a center with two or more stars.

Turnover

Check how long the child care providers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It is best if children stay with the same child care provider for at least a year. It is hard for children if their child care providers change frequently.

Child Care Provider Qualifications

Ask about the child care providers’ training and education. Child care providers with special training in working with children are better able to help your child learn.

4. Make a Choice

After visiting programs, think about what you saw at each visit and make the best choice for your child and family. Our partners at Child Care Aware have developed a checklist of things to look for as you make this decision. Child Care Aware also offers information and a checklist of considerations for parents of children with special needs.

5. Stay Involved

The work is not over when you find good care for your child. You and your child care provider are partners now. Here are some ways to be involved:

Even if you cannot get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask your child care provider how things are going and how your child is doing.

Visiting and participating in events at your child’s program when possible sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child care provider that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.

These Five Steps to Choosing Quality Care were based upon publications developed by our partners at Child Care Aware.

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