Especially for Parents: How do you know if your child care center is doing a good job?

Many people say that they can feel what a program is like on their first visit. But for others it is a difficult thing to know exactly what their child will experience in a center by simply taking a tour and meeting with the director. Luckily there are some systems in place that help parents in their evaluations. In Minnesota there are three main vehicles to assess quality in center-based child care. Here is a quick snapshot.

Licensing – A process overseen by the Minnesota Department of Human Resources (DHS) that regulates centers. Generally, all child care centers are required to go through licensing and are inspected once each year. Requirements cover health and safety, staff ratios and requirements, and equipment as some of the key components. Minnesota has among the highest licensing standards in the nation, which contributes to the quality, as well as the cost, of providing care in our state.

Accreditation – There are several organizations that accredit centers in the U.S. At Especially for Children, we have chosen to seek accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the largest accrediting body. Under the NAEYC system, centers voluntarily apply to be assessed on over 400 criteria.After months of work preparing classroom portfolios, administrative portfolios, collecting parent and staff surveys, and assuring that each classroom reflects quality standards, an outside evaluator visits to assess all aspects of the center’s operations. Centers go through the accreditation process every five years.

We are extremely proud to announce that seven of our eight locations have recently received letters that we have been reaccredited as a result of outstanding performances at their validation visits this year. We are so proud of our directors and teaching teams who worked together to make this happen!!

The Edina/W 70th Street center will be the last center to be visited, which will happen by the end of the year. Although it is getting the last visit, it was actually our first center to be accredited in January of 2014, so it is on a slightly different cycle than the others. We feel confident that they will be reaccredited with outstanding scores as well.

Parent Aware – A Minnesota Quality Rating System that centers in Minnesota can apply to for an assessment of their quality on a variety of criteria. Parent Aware holds NAEYC accreditation in high esteem, so as NAEYC accredited centers, we become Parent Aware centers after having our teaching staff complete some additional training beyond the requirements of NAEYC and licensing. All of our eight centers are 4-Star Parent Aware rated, which is the highest designation of quality.

Please remember that it is our commitment to be continually challenged to maintain these high standards. And your feedback is always welcome. Here’s to a great year!