By Pamela West, State child-care licenser for the HDN
A recent survey of 147 area families showed the three top child-care facility qualities indicated by parents/guardians were: 1) providers and caregivers are trained; 2) facilities are registered or licensed by the state and; 3) the facility provides a curriculum and activities for children throughout the day.
State law says any person providing care for more than two children on a regular basis must be registered or licensed by the state. "Regular basis" is defined as "providing care to children of separate families for any daily periods of less than 24 hours and within three or more consecutive weeks. The child must be in attendance four or more days a week for six hours a day or more."
All registered child-care providers and caregivers working in registered child-care facilities must obtain eight hours of approved training annually and maintain current CPR and first aid certification at all times. Child-care facilities are also required to provide a variety of activities throughout the day, designed with intervals of stimulation and relaxation and a balance between periods of active play and quiet play or rest. Both individual and group activities should be provided with the opportunity for children to experience art, music, books, stories and dramatic play. Television programs and movie viewing should not be excessive and the programs must be child appropriate during the hours of child care. Outdoor play should also be
provided on a daily basis when weather permits. When providing routine and activities, flexibility is important to accommodate the ages of the children in care and meet their individual and group needs. Because of this, it is expected that not all planned activities will be carried through; adaptation is necessary.
Other important qualities indicated in the survey were: background checks conducted on providers and caregivers; staff-to-child ratios; hours of operation; experience of the provider; cleanliness of facility and caregivers; cost of care; convenient location to home, work or school; frequency of turnover of staff and children in care; size of facility; and transportation provided.
The survey was conducted by the Hill County Family Support Coalition and Future Search.