Seeking Child Care
Choosing quality child care is an important decision. Albemarle Alliance for Children and Families Child Care Resource and Referral is here to help you with your search. Albemarle Alliance for Children and Families Child Care Resource and Referral offers information to families looking for child care and early education experiences for their young children. We do not license or regulate child care facilities. We do not make recommendations, but we provide parents with information that will assist them with making an informed decision.
If you would like to request a referral on the phone, please call 252-333-3205 or 1-800-262-8314 (toll free) Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm.
Click here if you would like to complete a request for referral online or print out a form.
An overview of the Star Rated Licensing System in North Carolina
The North Carolina Division of Child Development uses the Star Rated License to license the centers and family child care homes in North Carolina. It is used as a way to recognize a child care provider’s extra efforts to provide quality child care. A child care facility receives anywhere from one to five stars. One star means that the child care facility has met North Carolina’s minimum requirement to open. Child care centers open with a Temporary license and family child care homes open with a one star license. After six months, they can voluntarily apply for more stars.
The star rating is based on staff education and program standards. For staff education, the child care facility has to meet mandatory educational requirements but can receive more points for having more education and experience in early childhood areas. A child care facility can receive a maximum of seven points in staff education.
For program standards, the child care facility’s environment is assessed. The North Carolina Division of Child Development considers issues such as making sure children have enough space inside and outside, staff/child interactions, making sure the children have interest areas set up and having enough materials available, and good health practices. A child care facility can receive a maximum of seven points in program standards.
A child care facility may also receive a quality point for having enhanced standards in staff education or program standards.
Child care facilities must meet a minimum requirement of 75% for compliance history, where the North Carolina Division of Child Development checks records for licensing violations that have occurred in the past three years.
Religious sponsored child care programs are not required to obtain a star rating. They can operate with a Notice of Compliance. These programs must still meet minimum health and safety requirements.
Albemarle Alliance for Children and Families Child Care Resource and Referral encourages you to call each referral you receive and verify there is still a vacancy available in your child’s age group. You should also verify that the schedules, fees, and group sizes meet your family’s needs. If you are pleased with your telephone interview, schedule a visit to see the environment. It is best to visit several times before making your choice. Below is a list of quality indicators that you can look for during your visits. These quality indicators will help keep your child safe while he or she is in child care.
1. Staff-Child Ratio and Group Size: You want your child to get plenty of individual attention. This is especially important for infants and toddlers who require more one-on-one nurturing. The fewer the children there are for each adult, the better it is for the child. Licensing also limits the number of children in care. Smaller groups are usually safer and calmer, so you should ask how many children are grouped together. Children learn more and socialize better in smaller groups where caregivers can provide more individual attention.
Ratios and Group Size in Licensed Child Care Centers
|Age||Ratio Adult to Children||Group Size|
|12-24 Months||adult child ratio 1:6||12|
|2 Years||adult child ratio 1:10||20|
|3 Years||adult child ratio 1:15||25|
|4 Years||adult child ratio 1:20||25|
|School-Age||adult child ratio 1:25||25|
Family child care homes are licensed for a maximum of eight children: five (5) children birth-five years old and three (3) school-age children
2. Caregiver Turnover and Education: When caregivers come and go, it makes it hard on your child. Children do best when they can stay with the same caregiver for at least one year. Adults who have training in early childhood education provide higher quality programs and offer age-appropriate activities that better prepare children for school. Adults trained in CPR/First Aid will be able to hand emergencies and react appropriately if your child has a medical emergency. When adults continue to receive early childhood training, they will know newest research in child development.
3. Family Involvement: Your family involvement should be welcomed and encouraged. You can ask about different ways you can stay involved. You want to choose a place that will keep you informed about what happens with your child during the day. There should be an open door policy where you are able to visit at any time.
4. Health and Safety: When you look around, the space should be clean and hazard free (inside and outside). The children should be supervised at all times. Babies should sleep on their backs. There should be frequent hand washing. There should be emergency plans in place along with regular fire and tornado drills. The teachers should have their CPR/First Aid up-to-date.
5. Accreditation: National accreditation means that a child care facility has successfully met standards of higher quality on a national scale. Examples of accreditation include the National Association for the Education of Young Children Accreditation (usually for child care centers), the National Association for Family Child Care (for family child care homes), and the National AfterSchool Association (for school-age programs).
6. Interactions: When teachers are warm and respectful to children, those children are more likely to develop positive relationships with their peers. Children should be greeted warmly. They should be comforted if they are in distress. Teachers should smile, maintain eye contact and get to know each child individually.
7. Developmentally Appropriate Activities/Curriculum: Developmentally appropriate activities are activities that are not too hard for children, but they are also not too easy. These activities will focus on fine motor skill (like cutting) and large motor skills (like running). Child care facilities should have age appropriate materials. There should be a variety of books available to the children and they should be read to daily. In a developmentally appropriate environment, children should be allowed to make choices and have access to quiet activities and active play every day.