Choosing a child care setting for your infant, toddler or preschooler is a big decision. Quality is one of the most important factors to consider, as research shows that quality early learning settings help children develop skills – like socialization, motivation, self-control and focus – that are crucial to their success once they enter school.
Quality child care and preschool programs build on basic health and safety to include:
- Teachers and caregivers who know how to work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers
- Learning environments that nurture the emotional, social, language and cognitive development of every child
- Hands-on activities that stimulate and encourage positive brain development
- Positive, nurturing relationships that give young children the individual attention they need
- Caregivers who provide regular feedback to parents and families
Things to look for and questions to ask when considering a child care or preschool program.
Quality First – a signature program of First Things First – partners with child care and preschool providers across Arizona to improve the quality of early learning for kids birth to age 5 and helps parents and families make more informed decisions when choosing a provider to meet their needs.
Quality First funds quality improvements that research proves help children thrive, such as training for teachers to expand their expertise in working with young children, and coaching to help providers create learning environments that nurture the emotional, social and academic development of every child. Currently more than 900 child care centers, homes and preschool programs in communities across Arizona participate in Quality First.
“Early education makes a huge difference in preparing kids for school. Natalia is testament to that.”
Paying for Child Care
Quality child care can be expensive, but there are resources to help.
Quality First Scholarships help low-income families afford quality early care and education for their young children. Funded by First Things First, a limited number of these scholarships are available for children birth through age 5 through child care and preschool centers and homes that are enrolled in Quality First. Programs distribute available scholarships to eligible families on a first-come, first-serve basis. Scholarships are tied to family income level and are available for parents who may be working, looking for work or improving their work skills through training or education. Other eligibility requirements apply. The number of scholarships available through each program is limited, and Quality First Scholarships are not available in all programs that participate in Quality First.