In Texas, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Child Care Regulation’s (CCR) licensing department regulates all child care and early learning programs. It is critically important that parents and families choose child care and early learning programs, either center-based or home-based, that are licensed or registered with CCR. Visit the CCR website to confirm that a child care and early learning program is licensed or registered by CCR to operate in Texas.
CCR requires all child care and early learning programs in the state to comply with basic regulations around health and safety, known as minimum licensing standards. Many child care and early learning programs, including Texas Rising Star certified programs, choose to exceed these minimum licensing standards by providing higher quality learning environments for the children in their programs. This can include higher quality curriculum, classroom activities, teacher qualifications, and parent education. Learn more about the high-quality standards that Texas Rising Star certified programs achieve.
Selecting Care for Your Young Child
Selecting an early childhood setting for your young child is an important decision you may have to make as a parent or caregiver of a young child. You will make the best possible choice for you and your child if you have strong knowledge of what you should expect when you are shopping around for care. Download “A Parent’s Guide to Choosing Care” to assist you in starting your search, knowing what key questions to ask, look for signs of quality, and help guide you through the selection process. It is a short read, but worth your time!
A Parent’s Guide To Choosing Quality Childcare
Be Your Child’s Voice
Remember that 80% of brain development occurs before age 4, so it is really important that you continue to stay involved with your child’s care. By staying involved you will greatly increase the chances that your child will get the highest level of care possible, which matters a lot during this critical period of brain development! Remember this when thinking about being involved in your child’s care.
It’s as simple as ABC: Ask Questions, Be There, Create Improvements
- At least once a week, ask your child’s teacher how your child is doing, and what is going on in the classroom. Try to set up meetings with the teacher for longer discussions.
- Ask your child’s teacher if he or she has read “Little Texans. Big Futures.” Don’t be afraid to download and bring a copy for your child’s teacher to read.
- Ask the teacher, the director, or administrator about safety. How do they make sure your child is safe? (You can review the program’s state licensing record via the Child Care Search tool.)
- Ask other parents or caregivers with children in the program how they feel about it. Build some relationships and work together. Later if you want to help improve things, it’s good to have partners.
- If there is a problem you find with the care or the early learning program, ask how it will be fixed or improved. Get a commitment.
- If you have some time, drop in to the program during the day. It’s your right and you will learn a lot about how the program works. While you’re there join them for lunch, read a book with them, or help with nap time.
- If you cannot get to the program during the day try to drop off or arrive early some days. This way you can make time to chat with your child’s teacher.
- Offer the teacher help or support. Build a partnership with your child’s teacher. Consider trying to support special events like field trips or classroom celebrations. If you have any time to lend, let the teacher know!
- Always talk to your child about his or her day in the program, even with infants. Leaving care or leaving you is a big transition for them. Your soothing voice and your interest will help them adjust and it shows their care is important to you.
- Of course, you can’t always be there, otherwise you wouldn’t need care. Make sure you and the teacher create ways for you to communicate outside of the program. Exchange email addresses or phone numbers and commit to regular communications.
- Since you will be talking to your child and your child’s teacher about the program, you will learn about challenges. You can make a difference. You can make a change. When a problem or challenge comes up, stop and think of some solutions or ask for some from the teacher, from your parent partners, or from the director.
- Does the classroom have everything it needs? Look around. Do the toys and learning tools seem clean and new? Are there enough books? Talk to some of the other parents about ways you can all support your child’s program.
- In Texas we have many types of quality improvement systems for early care and education. Ask the director if the center has any accreditations, is involved with any quality improvement programs, or is working towards any type of quality improvement goal. If the answer is “no,” ask “when can we start?” and “how can I help?”
- Read “Little Texans. Big Futures.” Learn about the different areas of child development, what skills your child should be gaining, and talk to your child’s teacher about how you both can work together to make sure your child gets support in the classroom and at home.
- If you ever see something that makes you feel concerned for a child’s safety call the Texas Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400.
Source: Little Texans. Big Futures.