Why Quality Matters

Parents know the person who cares for their child can make a huge difference in their child's life and well-being. Both common sense and research tell us that children's brains are growing most quickly during their first years of life, and that their experiences during these critical early years lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. As a result, child care affects the way that children think, learn, and behave. Studies repeatedly have shown that good quality child care - care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age-appropriate stimulating environment - helps children enter school ready to learn.

Studies have shown that high quality care has an even greater impact on low-income children. And , that poor quality care - which is too often unstimulating, uncaring, and even unsafe - deprives children of the strong start they need.

High quality care improves child outcomes.

•  Research shows that children in high-quality child care demonstrated greater mathematical ability, stronger thinking and attention skills, and fewer behavioral problems than children in lower quality care. These differences held true for children from a range of family backgrounds with greater significance for children from families that earn low incomes.

•  Children in high-quality early care and education score higher on reading and math tests and are more likely to complete high school and go on to college, while being less likely to repeat a grade or get charged in juvenile court, according to several long-term studies. In contrast, children in poor-quality child care have been found to be delayed in language and reading skills.


Much of the child care in the United States is not high-quality.

•  Nearly two-thirds of parents believe child care programs are licensed, caregivers undergo a background check, are trained in first-aid and CPR, and are trained to recognize and report signs of child abuse. Actually, standards vary by state and many states have minimal or no such requirements.
•  Only 10 states require all family child care providers to become licensed or registered.
•  41 states do not require family child care providers to complete any training in early childhood education before beginning work. 39 states do not require center-based child care providers to complete any training in early childhood education before beginning work.
•  Only 8 percent of licensed child care centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. (Accredited centers are required to meet standards for provider training, curriculum, safety, and the care environment that go above and beyond state licensing regulations).


The lack of high-quality child care is directly related to the lack of school readiness.

• Forty-six percent of kindergarten teachers report that half of their class or more have specific problems when entering kindergarten, including difficulty following directions, lack of academic skills, and/or difficulty working independently.
•  According to a National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) study, 36 percent of children in the 4th grade read below a basic level for their grade. Among 4th grade students who qualify for free & reduced-price lunch, 54 percent read below a basic level for their grade.


If you have questions or would like more information about how and why quality child care matters please contact Dee Burlingame (Ext. 14) or Bruce Stewart (Ext. 12) at (315) 393-6474.