To get started, call the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County. ELC can help narrow down your search based on your location or need, and can see whether you're eligible for financial assistance or scholarship. You can reach ELC at 561-514-3300 or by clicking here.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Visit and compare at least three child care settings. Make appointments and take your child with you if possible. Spend at least 30 to 60 minutes at each visit.
BE A SMART SHOPPER
Look for a positive relationship between the caregivers and the children. Your relationship with the caregivers also should feel comfortable and trusting. The environment should be cheerful and, above all, safe. You want a program that fits your ideas about parenting and learning, as well as your child care needs. Caregivers should be caring, qualified and well-organized. Their license should be current and the facility should provide you with their written policies and procedures regarding illness, communicable diseases and other emergencies.
CONSIDER THE COST
Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each caregiver and facility that you visited. Decide which satisfies the greatest number of your priorities at a rate you can afford. Keep in mind that the highest cost doesn’t guarantee the best caregivers and facilities. Likewise, the least expensive rate does not mean poor caregivers and facilities.
LOOK FOR QUALITY
Environment: A place that is safe, clean and up-to-date on all its licenses. In other words, a place you feel comfortable bringing your child each day.
Staff-to-Child Ratio: A place where the teachers/caregivers are warm & loving and spend enough time with each individual child – which helps build self-esteem.
Parent Involvement: A place that supports openness between parents and staff, and understands that families are their children’s first teachers.
Curriculum: A place where teachers/caregivers work from a proven, established educational plan that outlines clear goals and addresses the needs of each child – so you know your child will be ready for kindergarten.
Child Development: A place where children’s emotional, developmental, physical and educational needs are being tracked – and met.
Teacher Education & Support: A place that encourages teachers/caregivers to improve their knowledge & skills and offers them a chance to advance.
DO SOME RESEARCH
In Palm Beach County, the Health Department licenses and inspects child care facilities. Once you have narrowed down your choices, touch base with the health department to ensure the provider is in good standing.
LEARN ABOUT STRONG MINDS
Strong Minds is Palm Beach County's voluntary, quality rating improvement system for child care providers, funded by Children's Services Council. This is a national movement, with more than 30 states implementing their own quality rating improvement systems, so more U.S. children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
Quality learning programs can make a big impact on children's lives by:
- Improving children's learning and development
- Encouraging strong adult-child relationships
- Empowering families to become more involved in their child's learning.
Children's Services Council provides additional money and training support to child care sites in its Strong Minds Network.
Click here for a list of Strong Minds providers.
• Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County
• Florida Health/Palm Beach County
• Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County