Quality childcare is particularly critical for the well being of children and youth. Child-care research has shown that compared to low quality situations, high quality care can impact young children’s intellectual, language, and social skills and behavior. In a recent study published in Child Development, better classroom materials and practices in the day care setting were associated with more advanced development of children’s language and academic skills. The benefits of high quality care were even stronger and longer lasting for children at greater risk for having difficulty in school than the average. This was particularly true in case of better math skills and fewer problem behaviors.
Factors which contribute to high quality child-care are:
- Low child-teacher ratio increases the likelihood of one-to-one attention.
- Safe and healthy environment
- Caregivers who are nurturing and knowledgeable about children’s development
- Caregivers have a consistent and stable presence in the child’s life.
Staff training and educational background are among the most critical elements in improving children’s experiences in childcare. Providers who receive higher quality training and more specialized training are more likely to be found in high quality care environments. Job satisfaction and commitment are two factors that contribute to the stability of care. Turnover rates in child-care providers are high. This is due to the stressful conditions of providing child-care with long hours, low pay, and few or no benefits.
Many people think that providing childcare comes naturally, but teaching and caring for children in groups takes special skills. The best childcare providers have education and training about children. Licensed caregivers in Missouri are required to have 12 hours of childcare training every year. Caregivers learn how to plan the day, provide nutritious foods and fun activities that children will like.