Quality Indicators: What to Look For

Group Size
New York State regulates the maximum number of children in a group in all forms of regulated child care because it is important to maintaining proper supervision, enough one-on-one attention for each child and for health and safety purposes. You should also look for an environment that most closely matches your child's temperament, personality and needs. Some children thrive in a large group setting, while others need the quiet and comfort of a smaller group.

Ratios
Younger children fare better and receive more individualized attention when there are a smaller number of children per adult caregiver. Child-to-caregiver ratios are also regulated by New York State, but some programs will offer a better or lower ratio; make sure you ask for the child-to-caregiver ratio specific to your child's age at each facility you visit.

Health and Safety
Regulated child care programs (centers, homes, and afterschool) must meet minimum health and safety requirements in order to receive and maintain their registration or license. To know more about the health and safety of a program, you can request a Compliance History for that program. Be sure to ask the last time an inspection was conducted and what the results were.  Once your child is enrolled visit often and unannounced.  A few health and safety items to consider would be if there is direct and constant supervision, proper hand washing, working smoke detectors and fire drills, the general condition of the toys and condition of the child care space. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list.

For more information contact the St. Lawrence Child Care Council for information on registered Family Child Care and School-Age Child Care programs or the New York State Office of Children & Family Services Syracuse Regional Office for licensed Child Care Centers and Group Family Child Care.

St. Lawrence Child Care Council
(315) 393-6474  

NYS Office of Children & Family Services Syracuse Regional Office
(315) 423-1202

Caregiver Education and Turnover
An important indicator of quality is child care provider/teacher's level of education and continuing professional development. Caregivers in New York State must receive a minimum of thirty hours of training every two years. In addition, low staff turnover provides consistency of care for children. When looking for child care, ask how long the provider/teacher has been working with young children and what their qualifications are or what training they have attended.

Accreditation
Earning an accreditation means that the program complies with and maintains compliance with national standards that may be higher than the minimum state regulations. These programs have demonstrated that they understand children's developmental needs, plan appropriate activities and guidance, and have met ongoing educational requirements, all of which contribute to higher quality programs. To learn more about accreditation for programs please visit our Types of Child Care [hyperlink to that page 2.1] page.

Family Involvement
Quality programs work closely with parents to ensure they are kept informed about their child's development, and offer family members both planned and unplanned opportunities to observe and participate in activities. Quality programs will also respect and embrace ethnic and cultural differences. Parents, guardians, and other family members have the most direct and lasting impact on a child's growth and development; chose a program that feels welcoming to you; learn what is expected; and communicate what is important to you. It is a partnership!

Is This the Right Place for My Child Publication/Checklist