Finding quality child care can be a challenge

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Finding quality child care near your location might seem like an overwhelming task. The Voices for Children organization reported that approximately 77% of all available parents in Nebraska are in the workforce, and nearly 80% of children ages 0–5 are in some form of paid child care setting.

A high-quality workforce is vital to care for our youngest population while parents and caregivers are working. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life have a profound impact on their brain development. We know that early relationships, environments, and experiences affect all aspects of a child’s development. Finding the right place for your young child is critical.

The Early Childhood team at Nebraska Extension has created a website to guide parents seeking potential caregivers for their little one(s). The team identified five areas to consider when choosing a child care program.

Relationships — Children develop through relationships with attentive adults. Every day, teachers help your child feel secure and important. From the morning greeting to the end of the day, teachers should interact warmly with your child. Children who feel safe and cared for, grow in all areas of their development.

Health and Safety — Programs should promote the nutrition and health of children, and protect children and staff from illness and injuries. Children must be healthy and safe in order to learn and grow. 

Curriculum and Approaches To Learning — Program activities should involve learning experiences through active involvement with people and materials. It should be play-oriented and child-centered, encouraging children to develop their natural love of learning. 

Learning Environment — The physical environment should include appropriate indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance learning activities for children. 

Policies and Administration — Programs should develop policies and procedures including family handbooks to maintain consistency within their program. Family handbooks are especially important, so parents understand what programs offer for their children and families.

Knowing these five areas is important to finding quality child care.  According to the Kids Count in Nebraska Report, there are over 2800 licensed child care facilities in Nebraska.  

To find a licensed program near you, you can visit www.nechildcarereferral.org  Also, let Nebraska Extension help you find the right place for your child by using a checklist with the five areas above.  Be sure to check this resource out on Nebraska Extension’s website at https://child.unl.edu/choosing-quality-child-care. Nebraska Extension is dedicated providing resources to help families make the best choice regarding child care. 

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