Choosing A Quality Child Care Arrangement
Working parents often face the difficult task of locating a child care arrangement for their child. It is estimated that more than 72% of parents with children under age 5 years use child care in Alabama (US Department of Labor, 2003). There are several child care options available, including licensed family child care, licensed group child care, licensed centers, exempt centers, relative care, and in-home care.
Family Child Care Homes and Group Child Care Homes are licensed by the County Department of Human Resources. Up to six children may be cared for in a child care home, and up to twelve children may be cared for by 2 adults in a group child care homes. Depending upon the ages of the children, additional rules may apply. To get more information, call your County DHR office at 293-3000.
Child Care Centers care for 13 or more children. Legally operating centers are either licensed by the State Department of Human Resources or exempt from licensure. Licensed centers have Minimum Standards which must be followed in order to continue operating. For more Child Care Center Licensing information, you may call the DHR Child Care Services Division at 242-1425.
Exempt Child Care Centers are not required to be licensed by the state. Churches may be licensed or they may choose to be exempt from licensure, but they still have certain requirements, such as a fire and health inspection. In addition to church child care facilities, there are other types of centers which may be eligible for exempt status. Please call the DHR Child Care Services Division at 242-1425 for more information.
Relative Child Care arrangements occur when a relative, including grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, or adult siblings care for related children. Relative care is not licensed or regulated. In-home child care is another form of non-regulated care. Parents may choose to hire someone to come into their home to care for children.
How do I Find Quality Child Care?
Quality Child Care means that your child is receiving care from a caring, trained child care provider in a safe, healthy, nurturing, and stimulating environment. According to the Alabama Department of Human Service’s website (www.dhr.state.al.us) the factors that contribute to quality child care include:
- Low child staff ratio
- Trained staff
- Safe, healthy environment
- Developmentally appropriate activities and practices
- Age appropriate toys and equipment
- Loving interactions between child and caregiver
- Parent involvement
- Program accreditation
For more information on quality child care, you may call Child Care Services Division at 242-1425 or visit the DHR website as noted above. You may also contact Family Guidance Center of Alabama’s Child Care Resource and Referral Program by calling 270-4100, extension 227.
Locating Your Provider Child Care Aware, a nationally recognized Child Care Resource Program offers the following tips for locating your provider:
1. Locating your provider means doing some research, therefore, start looking for child care as far in advance as you can.
2. Call your local Child Care Resource and Referral Program to get lists of child care providers, information on finding quality care, and information on child care and development.
3. Visit the Providers you are interested in and find out:
- How many children are there with each provider? In order for your child to get as much attention as possible, you need to have as few children as possible being cared for by the provider.
- How many children are in the group? The smaller the group size, the better for your child.
- What are the provider’s qualifications? How often does the provider attend training classes? Providers who continue to upgrade their education and skill levels will provide healthier, safer, and more appropriate child care.
- How long has the provider been with the facility? You want to be sure that your child will have a stable environment, including the same caregiver(s) every day.
- Is the center of home accredited? Planning to attain accreditation? Providers who are accredited meet much higher standards, thereby providing higher levels of quality care.
4. Make the Best choice you can for your child and your family.
5. Be an involved parent by serving as a volunteer, participating in events, visiting the facility, and attending parent meetings.
To learn more about locating quality, you may call Family Guidance Center of Alabama at 270-4100 or visit our office at 1230 Perry Hill Road in Montgomery. You may contact the Child Care Services Division at the Alabama Department of Human Resources or Child Care Aware.