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 attending regular meetings with your child’s caregiver, offering to volunteer at the program from time to time, visiting for your child’s birthday or to read a book aloud to the children, and joining in on special events at the facility.
You can also call Child Care Aware of New Hampshire toll-free 1 (855) 393-1731 to speak with a friendly Child Care Resource and Referral Outreach Specialist about your child care needs and questions.
Is This the Right Place for My Child?
Quality Rating and Designation
New Hampshire currently has three designations for quality child care. The following program types continue to meet the increasing standards; which are known to improve quality, and to ensure the safety of children and prepare them for success. These designations are Licensed, Licensed Plus and Accreditation.
Licensed programs include child care centers and family child care homes. The Child Care Licensing Unit (CCLU) regulates licensed child care programs based on the following aspects:
Ratio: The number of children per adult in a home or classroom.
Group Size: The total number of children in a group setting (i.e. a classroom or home).
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 furniture or structures in the environment; its’ placement, as well as equipment and toys. Also 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 providers have education and training in child development and other related topics. Providers have experience caring for children in a group setting.
If you are considering licensed child care ask the program about their most recent Statement of Findings and Corrective Action Plans. Licensed centers and family child care providers are required to make these available for your review. You can also contact Child Care Licensing Unit by calling (603) 271-9025 or toll free at (800) 852-3345, ext. 9025 for information or collect this information on the web at https://nhlicenses.nh.gov/verification/?facility=Y
Licensed Plus designated programs are programs that have chosen to implement practices into their program above and beyond required licensing standards.
Licensed Plus is a quality rating system that recognizes NH child care programs for efforts they make to improve the quality of care for young children and rewards programs that strive to improve their practices and staff qualifications. It also allows families to identify programs with higher quality.
The Licensed Plus Program was developed in collaboration with the Child Development Bureau and is administered by the Child Development Bureau. To view a list of Licensed Plus Programs visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcyf/licensedplus/providers.htm.
Accredited programs are programs that 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) – accredited child care centers. Visit http://families.naeyc.org/find-quality-child-care to search for an accredited child care center in New Hampshire.
- National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), - accredits providers who are caring for children in the provider’s own home. Visit http://www.nafcc.org/Accredited-Provider-Search-Function to search for an accredited family child care program in New Hampshire.
- Council on Accreditation (COA) accredits programs that provide care when school-age children are not in school. Visit http://coanet.org/home/ to search for an accredited school-age program in New Hampshire.