Choosing quality child care

  • Published
  • By Nikki Bennett
  • Airmen and Family Services Flight, Youth Programs
With the increasing number of child safety incidents in off-base centers and homes, educating the families at Moody Air Force Base on ways to choose quality child care has become a primary focus. 

The number one concern for any parent should be the safety of their child while in a setting away from home. When visiting a home or program, parents should look for the following safety concerns:
· Clear paths and exits into and out of the home or center. 

· Non-broken materials and toys large enough to not be a choking hazard. 

· Outlets that are covered by a safety device. 

· Qualifications/training of the teacher, provider, or staff. 

It is recommended that at least one person in each center or home be certified to administer Infant and Child CPR and First Aid. The local American Red Cross offers classes for a minimal fee on a regular basis. 

Child abuse and neglect is a common fear for many parents. It is highly recommended that parents inquire of the training of the staff, provider, or teacher. Questions can be asked concerning prior issues or concerns, training requirements, and reporting procedures. 

The supervision of children is a major component of quality child care that highly reduces safety issues. Following ratio requirements is one of the first steps in maintaining a healthy and safe environment. Ratio is the number of children in care per adult. Bright from the Start, the Georgia licensing agency, sets ratio requirements for in-home child care homes and licensed day care centers. 

Air Force regulations require the following ratios to be followed by the Child Development Center: Infants 1:4, Pre-toddlers 1:5, Toddlers 1:7, Preschool 1:12, and School-Age 1:12. In a family child care home, the normal ratio is 1:6. Only two children may be under the age of 2. The provider' s own children are counted in this ratio. 

Many local daycares and homes serve meals to the children in their care. It is recommended that USDA approved foods be served to the children. Items such as peanut butter, nuts, hotdogs, and popcorn are choking hazards and should not be served to children under the age of 4. It is required through the Air Force that children are fed every 3 hours. 

The staff, provider, or teacher should receive specialized training on how to properly care for and interact with children. It is okay to question the provider, caregiver, or teacher about their qualifications. They should be knowledgeable in dealing with special needs (both dietary and medical), how to give positive guidance, how to respond in the event of an emergency, and how to meet the developmental needs of your child. 

SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, can occur in sleeping infants. It is imperative that SIDS be prevented by ensuring providers, caregivers, and teachers place infants to sleep on their backs. There should not be any stuffed animals, heavy comforters, or blankets inside the crib. Parents should check the area in which an infant will be placed carefully. 

For many parents, cost is the driving factor in choosing child care arrangements for children. Good quality may or may not come with a higher price tag. It is important that parents review all the factors before making a decision on child care arrangements. What price are you willing to place on the health, safety, and development of your child?