Guest Blogger: Bailey McKell- “Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care”

dbitd-tattoo-poster-without-footerDon’t Be In The Dark About Child Care, a campaign of the Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children, is an effort to inform parents about the difference between licensed and exempt child care and the components of a quality child care program. Alabama is one of only seven states that allows some child care programs to legally operate unregulated, and currently nearly one-half of all child care centers in Alabama are operating “exempt” from a license and inspection for basic health and safety standards.  Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care encourages families looking for child care to focus on the four indicators of a quality child care program:


  1. Staff

The staff is the foundation of a quality child care program. Quality child care staff have backgrounds in early child care and education or child development that help them understand children’s needs and how they can help them grow and develop. When you pursue child care options, look for staff who enjoy caring for young children and respect the child’s development and learning. This includes staff that:

  • Nurture, talk, and listen to the child
  • Use a respectful tone of voice and sit or kneel down on the child’s level to interact
  • Celebrate the child’s new skills
  • Talk to you on a regular basis about your child’s development and learning


  1. Environment

A quality child care environment is inviting and warm, as well as safe, organized, and clean.

A quality physical environment provides fun, hands-on activities, including:

  • A play area with age-appropriate toys, books, blocks, and art supplies
  • Opportunities to play outside
  • Musical activities where children sing, play instruments, dance, or listen to music
  • Activities that encourage children to use their five senses

A quality emotional environment is welcoming and the children’s behavior is guided in a positive way, including:

  • Staff that praise the children when they share, help one another, and work together
  • Staff that explain the rules in a simple, positive way
  • Staff that comfort children and help them express their feelings when they’re upset
  • No physical punishment is allowed


  1. Health & Safety

A quality child care program has standards and policies in place to keep the children and staff healthy & safe. In Alabama, licensed child care programs are inspected annually to ensure that they meet the state’s minimum standards for the health and safety of children in child care. If your child care program is not licensed, find out if it meets the following health and safety standards:

  • Fire and Health Department Inspections
  • Staff with First Aid & CPR Training
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Adequate Staff-to-Child Ratios
  1. Parent Involvement

Developing a good relationship with your child care provider will create a good support system to promote your child’s development and learning. Quality child care programs will have staff members who keep you informed about your child’s day, but you can make sure they maintain quality care for your child by:

  • Talking to your child care provider. Discuss your concerns and make sure you are happy with their answers.
  • Talking to your child. Ask them how their day went, what they did, who they saw, and if anything special happened.
  • Reporting your concerns. Contact DHR if you see anything that may affect a child’s health or safety. For the Child Care Services Division, call (866)528-1694. For Child Protective Services, call (334) 242-9500.


For more information and resources from Don’t Be In The Dark About Child Care, visit www.alabamachildcarefacts.com.  Families can also email alabamachildcarefacts@gmail.com or call (866) 711-4025.

Written by: Bailey McKell


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Help Me Grow Alabama

Help Me Grow Alabama is an affiliate of the Help Me Grow National Network and a program of the Alabama Partnership for Children.


Help Me Grow Alabama is funded by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education through the Preschool Development Grant and the Alabama Department of Human Resources.


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