Looking for Child Care? Ask Questions, Observe

Article excerpt

Byline: YOUR HEATLH By Todd Huffman For The Register-Guard

What is "the best" child care? The best child care promotes a child's healthy development in a safe, nurturing environment, where parents are involved and caregivers receive ongoing training and support.

A caregiver with training in child development is the main ingredient in quality child care. To keep the most qualified people in the field, parents should expect a child care provider to be paid commensurate with their education and training.

The best child care environments have plenty of space and equipment for learning, for indoor and outdoor activities, and for rest.

The best family child care providers operate as small businesses and follow state regulations.

The best child care centers have enough qualified staff for your child to receive quality individual attention. They offer their staff competitive wages and benefits, as well as continuing education. They should be state-certified, meeting state health and safety requirements, and carry insurance.

Family child care is child care offered in the home of the caregiver. Oregon law requires only that they be registered with the state Child Care Division if the caregiver cares for more than three children, or for children from more than one family.

Family child care operations may care for up to 10 children, but only six may be younger than 6 years of age, and only two younger than 2 years of age. Family homes are not inspected by the state.

What are child care centers? These are full- or part-time programs, certified as passing state health and safety inspections, and as maintaining specific ratios of staff to children. The s

taff is also checked for prior criminal and child abuse records.

You can call the Oregon State Child Care Division toll-free at (800) 556-6616 to check on a child care center's certification status.

What sorts of things should you look for when you visit a child care site?

The caregiver should be interested in your child and in the child's needs, routines, likes and dislikes; be warm and responsive to children; talk to each child calmly and respectfully with eye contact; and appear organized, relaxed, calm and emotionally engaged.

The children should appear happy, relaxed and involved in activities appropriate for their age. They should appear to feel safe and secure, and should be receiving lots of individual attention. …