Choosing Quality Child Care During COVID-19

Why is quality child care important for children?

Quality child care programs promote the emotional, social, physical, intellectual and creative development of all children.

What is quality child care?

A quality child care program is a safe, loving, and nurturing environment that supports healthy growth and development, challenges young children to learn, and prepares them for kindergarten. The following are important points to consider when choosing a child care program:

  •  A healthy and safe environment: children can grow and learn without getting injured.
  • Opportunities for exploration and learning:­ a positive and stimulating environment that supports children’s natural curiosity. 
  • Developmentally appropriate practices: activities that match each child’s developmental age, interests, abilities and family background.
  • Quality relationships: providers build positive relationships with the children and their families.
  • Predictable and appropriate routines: staff provide a rhythm for feeding, napping, toileting, etc.
  • Provider qualifications: child care providers are trained and qualified.
  • Adult to child ratio and group size: appropriate number of children for each provider and a small group size.

What are the different types of child care?

Child care options include the following:

  • Licensed Family Child Care Home: a private small business run out of a house, apartment, or condo
  • Licensed Child Care Center: a larger business with fixed hours of operation that can serve a larger number of children.
  • License-exempt Child Care: care provided by friend, family, neighbor, nanny, or au pair
  • School-Age Child Care: child care provided before and after school hours

What is meant by a licensed program?

A licensed child care program has met the California State Child Care standards for health and safety, staff qualifications and background checks, safe infant sleep, ratios and group size, emergency preparedness plans, and more.

What is the best fit for your family?

The decision to choose a child care center, family child care home, or license-exempt care may depend on various factors such as availability, cost, hours, and location. However, the type of program a family selects should be the one that best fits the individual needs of the child and family.

What new safety policies are in place due to COVID-19?

Child care facilities have a series of practices to ensure the safety of all enrolled children. Current guidance includes:

  • Curbside or door drop-off and pick up
  • Daily health screenings
  • Handwashing immediately upon arrival
  • Stable and consistent cohorts of children
  • Masks for staff and children over 2 years of age
  • Physical distancing when possible
  • Routine cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting
  • Maximizing ventilation and filtration of fresh air
  • Extra time spent outdoors

How to look for child care during COVID-19

May 2021, UCSF California Childcare Health Program

This article was made possible with funding from the UCSF Chancellor's Fund.