Choosing Quality Child Care
What are “Quality Early Childhood Programs?”
Quality early childhood programs provide experiences that optimize each child’s development, learning and health, engage families and communities in partnerships and cultivate life-long learners and productive members of society.
Five Steps to Choosing Child Care:
- Start looking for child care as early as possible.
- Make a call to your local child care experts, such as Child Care Aware of NH.
- Visit the child care programs you’re considering and ask questions about key indicators of quality, such as adult to child ratio, group size, caregiver qualifications, staff turnover and accreditation.
- Make a choice based on what you saw and your family’s needs.
- Stay involved by keeping communication open with your child’s caregiver, attending regular meetings with your child’s caregiver, offering to volunteer at the program if able to and join in on special events.
NH’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System (QRIS): Granite Steps for Quality
New Hampshire’s voluntary quality recognition system for licensed child care providers, known as Granite Steps for Quality focuses on improving the overall quality of Early Care and Education and Out-of-School Time (OST) programs in the state. Programs participating in GSQ will promote a culture of continuous quality improvement thereby improving outcomes for children and families to thrive and succeed in school and beyond.
The four GSQ Quality Steps are defined by criteria specific to program type based on two standards — Staff Qualifications and Learning Environments. GSQ encourages programs to meet quality standards by offering coaching, technical assistance, and online training along with generous financial incentives including programs serving children in The Child Care Scholarship Program. Through the NH Connections Information System, families seeking high-quality care (including center-based, home-based, Head Start, NAEYC Accredited, and OST programs) can search for programs that proudly display their Quality Step and Endorsements on their program profile.
Licensed programs include child care centers and family child care homes. The Child Care Licensing Unit regulates quality based on the following aspects of child care:
- Ratio: The number of children per adult in a home or classroom
- Group Size: The total number of children
- Health: Policies and practices around illness, immunization, nutrition, cleanliness, and preventing the spread of germs
- Safety: Practices to make sure the environment is safe, both indoors and outdoors. This includes practices around First Aid and Infant and Child CPR training for staff, fire precautions, criminal background checks, etc.
- Training, education and experience of the provider: Assures that providers are knowledgeable in child development and other related topics
Accredited programs have gone through a process of self-study and outside evaluation and have met higher standards of quality child care.
National accrediting associations include:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)-accredits child care centers.
- National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)-accredits providers that care for children in the provider’s own home.
- Council on Accreditation (COA)-accredits programs that provide care when school-age children are not in school.
There are many factors to consider including types of care, price, availability, quality of care and location. This consumer statement provides you with information to help you with your choice. To view the Consumer Education Statement click here.
How to Report a Concern about a Child Care Provider
The Child Care Licensing Unit will investigate concerns/complaints:
- That are based upon first-hand knowledge or information reported directly by a child who has first-hand knowledge;
- When there is sufficient specific information for the department to determine that the allegation(s), if proven to be true, would constitute a violation of any Child Care Licensing Rule or Law;
- That involve an incident that occurred within the last 6 months; or
- That involves an incident that occurred anytime if the complaint alleges physical injury or abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, or the danger of physical injury to one or more children.
Click here to contact CCLU with any questions about a child care program or if you are not sure if your concern meets the complaint criteria.
Services for Children and Families
DHHS helps individuals and families find additional support including financial assistance, Food Stamps, Medical, Child Care, Nutrition and Community Services.