Early care and education: How to choose for young children
Selecting childcare can be a daunting task for parents; consider these suggestions as you weigh your options.
The most important decision many parents will face is finding and accessing high-quality care and education for their children. The first few years of life is a critical period of incredible growth in all areas of development and 85 percent of that development occurs by age 3. Parents often need to rely on child care and preschools to help them foster healthy growth, learning and development with their children. In Michigan, 69 percent of children under the age of 6 have all available parents in the workforce.
How parents choose care is influenced by availability, cost and accessibility. All child care settings have the potential to provide high quality care so it is important to determine whether an in-home babysitter, relative care, daycare center or a family/group home will best match their needs. A parent may need to visit and interview all types of providers to get an idea of what might work best for their family. Another consideration is to match your child to the right daycare setting. This may not always be possible as parents might not know right away, so it’s important to remember a switch in providers or setting may be necessary in the future
It may be difficult for parents to know what high-quality care and education is. Michigan has joined other states in creating a Quality Rating Improvement Systems Quality Rating and Improvement Systems. These systems give parents an honest and consistent assessment of quality in an easy-to-navigate database. It has also created a roadmap for providers by giving them a consistent set of standards on which to assess and improve their programs and to objectively distinguish the quality of their services for consumers.
For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.