May is Child Care Month: Help celebrate

It's important to take the time to find care that fits the needs of your child and supports and encourages their healthy development.

Rita Romeo

Every May, B.C. acknowledges Child Care Month. Since 1982 individuals, organizations and municipalities have celebrated Child Care Month. Child Care Month is a time to recognize the importance of child care to families, and to honour the exceptional work of child care providers in communities around the province.

We all want what is best for our children. Choosing quality child care takes time. It’s important to take the time to find care that fits the needs of your child and supports and encourages their healthy development. Research shows the more stimulating and nurturing the early environment, the more positive connections are formed in the brain, which leads to the child thriving in all aspects of life.  Young children need to spend their time in caring, responsive, language-rich environments. They need opportunities to play, explore, and learn how to socialize. Quality child care promotes positive social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.

One of the key elements of quality child care is the child care provider, so choosing a provider who has your child’s best interest at heart, is vital. Child care providers should be warm, caring and attentive to children’s needs, culturally sensitive and accepting of differences, and should use positive guidance (that teaches rather than punishes). Child care providers should interact and respond to children and their needs, celebrate the child’s successes, and build and nurture confidence and self-esteem.

The environment is another key element to quality child care.  The care should be in a facility that is safe, clean, comfortable, and organized. There needs to be enough toys, activities, materials and equipment available to interact with and that are developmentally appropriate for the children using the items. When children are given opportunity to play they learn: how things work, the nature of materials, rhythm, words and ideas, how to cooperate and socialize, how to solve problems, how to use their imaginations, how to use their bodies and that they are capable individuals. There needs to be a balance within the environment that allows for children to rest, to have quiet, to have active play and to have regular outdoor play.  Time outdoors is a MUST.

There are a number of child care options available and these include licensed or license not required family child care and licensed group child care. Each type of care has different expectations as far as child to staff ratios, maximum number of children in a child care setting at any given time, amount of space required per child and other expectations dependent on the type of care.

B.C. law says that child care providers may care for no more than two children or one sibling group at any one time that are not related to the care provider.  The children being cared for are in addition to the child care provider’s own children, children related by blood or marriage, and any other children who ordinarily reside with the child care provider or the provider exercises the parental role over (step children, foster children, etc). If more children are cared for then a child care license is needed.

If you are a parent, celebrate Child Care Month by asking your child to draw a picture or make a card for their child care provider, pick flowers for them or bake something together as a special “thank you.” Or if you are a provider, celebrate with a party, having children draw pictures of what child care means to them, raising public awareness about the role that quality child care plays in building a healthy and strong community, or design a new bulletin board to highlight your affiliations, successes, and courses you have taken in order to provide quality child care.  Then take time to reflect on the difference you have made in the life of a child!

Rita Romeo is Program Coordinator for East Kootenay Child Care Resource and Referral

Sections taken from “Child Care Matters – A parent’s guide to choosing quality child care.” For further information on child care requirements, if you are looking for child care or would consider providing child care please call East Kootenay Child Care Resource and Referral (EKCCRR), 250-426-5677 or  1-800-661-2445.