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Choosing Quality Care

Why does quality matter?Father and Daughter

Choosing a quality child care provider is one of the most important decisions a family can make. Research tells us that:

  • children who have high-quality child care have better social, language, attention, thinking and mathematical skills
  • fewer behavioral issues occur with children who have had higher-quality child care
  • children develop best when they have stimulating activities that are right for their age and their development
  • the most important part of high-quality child care is a trusting relationship with a warm, caring adult

Remember, 85 percent of a child's critical thinking skills are developed by age 5. A full-time working parent leaves their child in child care or with a babysitter over 40 hours a week.  That is a third of a child's week Monday through Friday. Subtract time spent sleeping and eating and you see that the majority of the child's critical development time is passed in child care.

What should I consider when choosing child care?

Adult to Child Ratio. When there are fewer children in care, children get more attention. When children work closely with one adult, they learn and develop better. This is especially important for babies.

Group Size. Smaller group size increases the quality of care. This is especially true for young children. Providers are better able to give each child attention in smaller groups.

Education of Child Care Provider. Studies show that the education level of providers affects the quality of care. Education that relates to childhood development and early childhood education is very beneficial.

Staff Turnover. When employees leave their jobs or change classrooms often in child care, children are affected. Children may feel uncomfortable, confused or insecure without a consistent adult to provide their care. It is important to know that while teachers may come and go, excessive staff changes in child care can be a problem for your child.

Accreditation. Look for efforts ensuring quality development, such as accreditation by NAEYC or the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Also look for involvement with other agencies that offer training and advocate quality care, such as Virginia Star Quality Initiative. Visit for more information.

*Information provided by Virginia Child Care Resource and Referral Network


What should I look for at a child care center?

Before enrolling a child in a child care center, take a moment to make an unannounced visit. Take along our easy-to-use Quality Care Checklist to help answer any questions you might have.

CLICK to download checklist