Published On: Fri, Aug 22nd, 2014

Tips For Choosing After-School Childcare

Photo Credit: www.learningcentercleveland.com

Photo Credit: www.learningcentercleveland.com

As summer comes to a close and children head back to school, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) wants to remind parents and guardians of the resources available when choosing a childcare provider for their young children. With several options available, from facilities to in-home care and individual caretakers, it’s important to do ample research when making the best choice for each individual child.

“As a parent of a young child, it can be overwhelming to decide who will watch your child when you are unable to,” Interim Secretary Mike Carroll said. “Our department offers resources for parents making this important decision and works to license and inspect facilities across the state to ensure they are providing the highest quality care.”

Provider Search

The department offers a provider search of licensed facilities that can be reviewed by county and zip code in order for parents to learn about facilities located in their area and what programs are offered. Licensed providers have inspection histories included in their listings as well as details about their program – from full to part-time care and ages of children served, to hours of operation and whether or not meals or transportation is provided.

Know Your Child Care Facility Checklist

When selecting a childcare facility it’s important to not only know what is required of the facility to ensure they are complying with state laws, but also to know what to look for in a quality setting. Parents can download a one-page checklist to bring along when taking a tour in order to make sure it’s the best choice for their child. Teacher-to-child ratios, food and nutrition information, health related requirements, and what to look for in quality caregivers, environments and activities are all covered on the checklist.

Selecting a Caregiver

It’s crucial to know the background and parenting skills of anyone who is responsible for caring for a child. An overwhelming number of children are abused or neglected at the hands of non-relative caregivers – boyfriends, girlfriends or friends of the parents who may be ill-equipped to care for these young children. In partnership with more than 30 statewide agencies and organizations, DCF’s “Who’s Really Watching Your Child?” campaign offers parents free resources for choosing quality caregivers for young children.

The department’s Office of Child Care Regulation and Background Screening is statutorily responsible for the administration of child care licensing and training throughout Florida. The purpose of this program is to ensure that children are well-cared for in a safe, healthy, positive and educational environment by trained, qualified childcare staff.

This program currently regulates licensed child care facilities, licensed family day care homes, licensed large family child care homes, and specialized child care facilities for the care of  mildly ill children in 62 of the 67 counties in Florida. In addition, the office administers the registration of family day care homes not required to be licensed.

 

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