It’s scary being a new parent, especially with those long waiting lists and all the day care horror stories in the news.
How do you know which home care provider or child care center is best for your child? Where will your baby be safe and well cared for? How can you make sure that you’re entrusting your baby to the right person?
Here’s a quick checklist to help you screen potential child care providers.
After a phone screening, arrange at least one visit to the provider with your child; one of the visits should be unannounced.
Ask for a written copy of rates and policies;
Find out if all staff that have contact with children have had background checks and ongoing training on child health, safety and development;
Ask to see a copy of the license or certificate. How many children is the provider approved for?
Ask for a copy of the latest inspection report (if licensed) and for references.
How does the caregiver interact with your child: is the approach a good match?
Ask about the caregiver’s practices around sleep, feeding, learning and discipline. Does the style fit in well with your family’s values and practices?
If you have a child with special needs, ask how the caregiver will support the child’s participation in activities.
Ask if the provider is enrolled in a quality improvement program with ReadyKids.
Got a question or a complaint? Want to find child care options but have no idea where to start? Finding reliable and affordable child care is a concern for most families. Families need support and information to understand and navigate the world of child care and early education services. Research shows that high quality child care experiences support a child’s school readiness and future success. Our own Child Care Quality team has put together the following resources to help you evaluate the options and make the most informed choice possible.
How do I find child care?
Search online or speak with a child care specialist from Child Care Aware of Virginia. Get a free, individualized list of child care referrals in your area that meets your unique needs (such as location, hours, language spoken, ages of children, and other quality preferences). Note: listings are referrals, not recommendations. Also, ask other parents, your pediatrician, your religious community. Visit more than one provider if you can.
How do I interview providers?
Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) has an extensiveResource Guide for Choosing Quality Child Care that includes information about the different types of child care available, and how to interview and assess potential providers.
The ReadyKids Child Care Quality Program provides workshops on Choosing Quality Child Care for businesses and agencies in the City of Charlottesville, and Albemarle or Nelson County. Call Gail Esterman, CCQ Program Manager, 434-296-4118, x228 for more information.
How can I check for complaints or licensing violations?
Could high quality early childhood education affect the rest of our children’s lives? Recent research says yes, although with a different twist. A July Washington Post article cited a twenty year study which found that kindergartners who share, those who are kind and show empathy to others, are more likely to go to college and to get a full time job. Conversely, those who don’t exhibit these traits are more likely to have problems with the law.
What emerged most notably from following these children over two decades was the conclusion that early socialization and learning experiences have a positive influence throughout life. According to Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, “[The study] does offer the promise that if we can help kids get to this place by 5, that it will be sustaining.”
At ReadyKids, we believe it is essential to get kids Learning Ready and Relationship Ready. The STAR Kids program, addresses the juxtaposition between the two. During the school year, our educators bring social emotional skills into local Head Start classrooms and other area child care centers, helping to lower violent and aggressive behaviors and teaching kids to make safe and healthy choices, leading to positive outcomes for decades to come.
You might be surprised to learn that, in 2011-2012, Virginia schools sent more kids to law enforcement than in any other state. With a rate of nearly 16 referrals per 1000 students, this is almost three times the national rate–making Virginia the top contender in the ‘school to prison pipeline’. Also, according to a recent study of US Department of Education data by the Center for Public Integrity, some of the schools that send the most kids to law enforcement are middle schools, where students are 11 to 14 years old.
At ReadyKids, we believe in nurturing children, providing opportunities and support, rather than sending them through the justice system. Our programs work to ensure that kids are happy, healthy and safe—giving them the opportunity to succeed, at home, in school and beyond. Our Learning Ready programs give kids quality early educational experiences that prepare them for school and life, while our Relationship Ready programs help kids to experience positive, nurturing and healthy family relationships.
It is efforts like these that keep our kids in schools and out of the justice system, lowering the cost to the taxpayer, to society and, ultimately, to the children themselves.
According to a recent CVille Tomorrow article, this fall, despite the best efforts of area schools, 250 Charlottesville and Albemarle County 4-year-olds might not get to attend school, a problem which has prompted area leaders to think outside the box. In the search for answers, the article cited ReadyKids’ own ParentingMobile program and how this type of creative solution gives kids a chance.
Every week, the ParentingMobile takes early childhood programming into several Charlottesville neighborhoods, including Southwood, Friendship Court, Greenstone on Fifth, and Park’s Edge, bringing education and fun to families who don’t have access to school. Kids get to do stuff like arts and crafts, imaginative play and story time, all the while building vocabulary, benefiting from a school-like environment and making new friends.
While their children are busy learning, our team works closely with parents, offering support, an opportunity to connect with peers and information on local resources.
Today, this program plays an essential role in the lives of many kids in our community—kids who, every week, look forward to getting Ready to Learn… together.
We’d like to thank everyone who gave time, resources and lots of energy to this year’s Play Partners picnic. Our staff and volunteers helped make this an amazing day for our wonderful Play Partners kids.
A big shout out to the Village School students, who came in droves to help guide the picnic’s fabulous educational activities. Your energy and enthusiasm helped to make this day a great one!
About Play Partners
The Play Partners program is all about helping get kids Ready to Learn and Ready to Read. Every week throughout the school year, pairs of trained community volunteers go into childcare settings with a ‘story of the month’ and related activities. By reading to the children, using evidence-based methods such as dialogic reading, the volunteers expand literacy concepts and increase kids’ exposure to new vocabulary. At the end of every month, Play Partners provides each child with their own copy of the ‘story of the month’ to take home; these books are the beginning of a home-library for many families. Our goal is to provide the young children participating in Play Partners with quality early educational experiences that get them Ready to Learn.
Thank you to everyone who attended the 2015 Community Breakfast and to those who were there in spirit! We were excited to have the chance to spotlight Emily Schorpp, whose work with area teens earned her the 20th annual Child Advocate of the Year award, as well as Gary Albert, State Farm Agency, recognized as this year’s family-friendly employer.
We were also eager, on this 20th anniversary breakfast, to introduce a new feature—the highlighted ReadyKids story of the year, presented on this occasion by our own Teen Counselor, Lou Hanson, whose very personal account of one special teen underscored just how effective our programming can be.
Director of Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, Andy Block, shared some riveting data (seriously) in his keynote address and Dan Schutte of CBS 19 News was kind enough to stand up and lead the program.
Thanks again to our wonderful community of supporters, partners, team members and staff. We couldn’t do it without you. To anyone who didn’t make it, there will always be next year!
While much of the world is reeling at the news that brain size is directly (and sadly) linked to family income, we here at ReadyKids aren’t that surprised. The connection between early childhood experiences and brain development is well-documented, confirming just how essential early care and learning can be. The study found that, from birth, children of low-income families have less brain surface area than those whose parents are well-off. “We’ve known for so long that poverty and lack of access to resources to enrich the developmental environment are related to poor school performance, poor test scores and fewer educational opportunities,” said Elizabeth Sowell of Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, the study’s senior author, “But now we can really tie it to a physical thing in the brain. We realized that this is a big deal.”
It is a big deal but, thankfully, researchers confirm that there is hope—and that’s where we come in. In our own Home Visiting program, for example, we start working with moms during pregnancy and stick with them for those formative early years, mentoring them through some of life’s trickier moments and providing the materials and support that make all the difference. Other early intervention initiatives, such as Play Partners, STAR Kids and the Parenting Mobile give childcare providers and low-income families important life and learning tools that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Ready to level the playing field?Every gift to ReadyKids helps shrink that gap and opens doors to bright futures for kids.
We bet you (or someone you know) spends a lot of time reading to little ones. But are you getting the most out of those shared moments? Do you ask your child questions? Prompt a response? Repeat your words? If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re already halfway there!
Dialogic reading is an evidence-based system, currently being piloted by our Play Partners program, which brings kids deeper into the learning experience. According to the US Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, dialogic reading interventions have positive effects on oral language. Through this method, children are prompted to contribute to their own learning process, to become the storyteller. It’s all about engaging and interacting–and it works! So, next time you read to your preschooler, why not try out the PEER sequence yourself?
1. Prompt your child to say something about the book, 2. Evaluate your child’s response, 3. Expand your child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it, and
4. Repeat the prompt to make sure your child has learned from the expansion!