Accrediting child care

Monday, May 2, 2005

Today's child-care centers aren't just providing baby-sitting services for working parents. Some centers develop lessons around a curriculum suited to preschool children, plan activities that will stimulate their minds and senses and spend time teaching youngsters valuable skills.

Many of the child-care centers in Southeast Missouri now have state accreditation, a feature more and more parents are looking for.

A program called Success by Six can be credited, at least in part, for helping child-care providers understand the importance of state accreditation and how it helps promote the services available at accredited child-care facilities.

Success by Six is a national United Way program that works to address the problems in a community that prevent children from entering school prepared to succeed. It works as a complement to the area child-care facilities that teach youngsters rather than just baby-sitting them.

Centers that earn accreditation also are eligible for state funding and grants that can help them to improve their services.

There are only a small number of the 585 licensed facilities in the 20-county region covered by Southeast Missouri Child Care Resource and Referral that are accredited. Fourteen providers have accreditation, and another 24 are working toward that end.

People working in early childhood education say there are still areas of concern when it comes to issues like care for infants or wages for child-care providers.

Many parents cannot find suitable care for their infant or toddler because there aren't enough centers taking young babies. Once a center earns a reputation for quality, expectant parents often flock there to see about the possibility of enrolling their newborns.

The region's child-care workers deserve praise for their patience, acceptance and dedication to teaching youngsters. Many parents already know how valuable these people are.

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