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?
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.
NH’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
NH has a voluntary quality rating system for licensed child care providers. NH currently has three designations for quality child care: Licensed; Licensed Plus; and Accreditation (accredited programs). Families can use this information to inform their choices for quality child care.
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.; and
- Training, education and experience of the provider: Assures that providers are knowledgeable in child development and other related topics.
For more information visit CCAoNH’s Child Care Licensing page.
Licensed Plus is a quality rating in New Hampshire. It means that a child care program has practices above and beyond required licensing standards. Programs who are Licensed Plus may be in the process of becoming accredited. To learn more visit Licensed Plus.
Click here to view programs that have a Licensed Plus designation.
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.
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.
Click here to learn more about these services.