You want your child to become happy, proud, and able to go safely into the world some day. But only happy, proud children can become happy, proud grown-ups. Young children grow in important ways during their first five years. They learn to walk, to talk, and to play with others. They learn many things about the big wide world. They also decide if they can trust other people and if they can trust themselves. Their day care needs to be a place they trust. It should be a place that helps them learn and grow. When you look for a day care center or babysitter for your young child, take this checklist with you. It will help you find a good place to leave your child while you go to work. The Day Care Center or Somewhere You Leave Your Child Should:
The Person Who Cares for Your Child Should:
- Be licensed, approved, certified or registered by the state
- Provide snacks and well-balanced, hot meals
- Have a fenced outside play area with outside toys, swings, and climbing cubes that are securely attached to the ground
- Have a daily schedule that includes nap and inside and outside activity times
- Let you visit whenever you want
- Require an application form for each child with spaces for name, medical conditions, and addresses and telephone numbers for parents and doctor
- Remove dirty diapers and food scraps and throw away garbage every day
- Have some workers who have worked at the center six months or longer
- Give workers a small number of children to tend
- Tell you the rules for how children should act
- Have rules that "fit" the age and abilities of the children
- Not allow children to hurt themselves or others
- Not allow spanking
- Plan activities for each week that "fit" the children's ages
- Plan activities that use blocks, measuring cups, dolls, trucks, art materials, and other creative toys
- Encourage children to play together and share
- Allow children to play alone some of the time
- Teach children about the world through field trips, poems, songs and books
- Always require seat belts or car seats when they take field trips
- Require workers to keep learning about child care
- Tell you every day about your children's activities
- Talk to them often
- Hold them often
- Read books to them every day
- Rock them often
- Hold babies while feeding them
- Smile at the children often
- Talk to them in normal tones, never yelling
- Make sure children do not have toys so small they could swallow them
- Give three- to five-year-olds puzzles to play with, paper and crayons or paints, and blocks to build things with
- Let two- to five-year-olds play dress-up or "pretend" and. give them things like old clothes, empty cereal boxes and books to play with
- Let one- and two-year-olds crawl and walk on carpet during a lot of the day, watching them carefully
- Let one- and two-year-olds play with soft toys that are washed often to kill germs that could make them sick
- Wash their hands after changing diapers
- Change diapers often and write down what babies ate and number of times they had bowel movements, so they can tell you that at pick-up time
- Make children feel good about finishing a project
- Sing or hum to the children
There are many programs that have met requirements that are above those set by child care licensing. These programs that have completed the Approval Application and received a qualifying site visit will become Approval Accredited Programs. These programs are either State Accredited or Nationally Accredited to receive this status. To receive the Approval Accreditation, the program must meet the requirements for State or National Accreditation which includes a site visit to verify they have met the higher standards set by the Division of Child Care & Early Childhood Education or National Accreditation. For a listing of Accredited Programs contact the Division of Child Care.
Parents that use these programs will receive a double State tax credit for placing their child in these qualified child care centers or family child care homes. All parents are eligible for a 10% tax credit for child care; however, those parents of children in Accredited programs will receive tax forms for the 20% tax credit.
Please ask if your program that you choose or are currently using is an Approval Accredited program. If they are not ask "Why Not?" For information on how a program can become Accredited you may print the Approval Application for the State Accreditation. For Information on becoming Nationally Accredited for Child Care Centers by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children at 1-800-424-2460) or Family Child Care Homes by NAFCC (National Association of Family Child Care at 1-800-359-3817).
Types of Accredited Programs
FDCH=Family Day Care Home - These child care programs are unique in that they are located in the caregivers home. They provide care for an average of 6 -10 children. If a program has 6 children they are required to be licensed by the Division of Child Care and they receive several site visits per year to check for compliance of licensing regulations. Family Day Care Homes offer an intimate day care setting which resembles the child's own home.
VDCFH=Voluntary Registered Day Care Family Home - These programs have fewer than 6 children in their care. They are still eligible for the Special Nutrition Food Program but are not licensed by the Division of Child Care Licensing Unit. These programs do complete a self assessment of basic health and safety guidelines. They do not receive visits to verify compliance.
Day Care Center - Centers usually care for 25 or more children in a group setting. Centers may be church sponsored, operated by private for-profit providers, school-based, or community non-profit centers. Day care centers may offer care for infants, toddlers, preschool, and/or school age children full time or part time. All day care centers are required to be licensed by the Division of Child Care Licensing Unit and they receive several site visits per year to check for compliance of licensing regulations.
Licensed programs have met basic health and safety requirements for young children. There are different regulations for Centers and Family Day Care Homes to meet the different needs of both programs. If you feel that a program is not providing for the basic health and safety needs of young children in Arkansas, please contact this office to discuss your concerns and to issue a complaint towards the child care program. You also may call this office to see if there have been any validated major complaints against a particular child care program once you have narrowed down the search for child care to a particular site. There are many good child care programs, however, the parents need to do some checking to make sure that the program they choose is a good place for their child.
For more information on accredited programs or if you have questions about the Accreditation process, please contact the Division of Child Care & Early Childhood Education at Little Rock at 1-501-682-8590.
Please follow the links to important information about child care.