Education
The quality of education your child receives is an important factor in any family’s relocation. The Denver metro area has many great public and private schools from which to choose, from pre-K all the way to the university level. For parents that already have some idea about the school their child will attend, www.coloradoschoolguides.com provides a searchable database of all the public and private schools, preschools and child care in Colorado.

CHILD CARE
For the working parent, child care is an invaluable necessity. If you’re a parent moving to the Denver area, finding flexible and affordable child care is a top priority. In Denver, all child care facilities, including homes and centers, preschool and after-school programs, summer camps and residential child care facilities are licensed and monitored by the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Care (DCC). To help keep parents at ease, the DCC also runs criminal background checks on all child care employees. The DCC also maintains a database of childcare providers that parents can search by name or facilities close to one’s home. The database includes the licensing history of each child care facility as well. In Denver alone, there are more than 500 child care facilities to consider.

Some child care facilities are housed in their own building or office while others may be located in a school or person’s home. Many offer full- and part-time enrollment throughout the year while others are only after school or during the summer. Choosing the right child care facility depends on your work schedule and the needs of your child as well as availability at your preferred child care facility.

The Denver Early Childhood Council (DECC) is one organization that works to ensure quality child care across the Denver metro area. The council’s mission is to create a network of early childhood services in the area. The council consists of a network of partners, working together to provide affordable, quality child care. For parents and families looking for child care, it offers many resources, such as financial assistance and ways to recognize quality child care. The DECC also provides Child Care Resources and Referrals (CCRRs) for services and facilities throughout the Denver metro area. One CCRR partner is Red Rocks Community College. The program helps families find child care and helps educate families and child care providers through workshops and newsletters. Many colleges and universities also provide some sort of child care services for their faculty, staff and students, with limited spaces for the general public.

After-school programs are another child care option for working parents with school-aged children. The Lights On Afterschool initiative works with community partners to offer programs that blend academics, art, athletics, technology, leadership development and tutoring at Denver metro elementary and middle schools.

Some companies also offer free or discounted child care services for their employees, so check with your company’s Human Resources department to find out what child care services are available to you.

TOOLKIT FOR FINDING THE RIGHT CHILD CARE FACILITY
Considering that selecting a child care provider is one of the most important decisions you can make, it is vital to ask the right questions of a child care provider to make an intelligent choice when choosing a facility for your children. One resource that can help you locate and evaluate child care is the Collaborative for Children Resource (www.collabforchildren.org). Take a moment to review the following tips regarding the child care selection process.

Health and Safety
  • Check child care licensing compliance history on the Colorado Department of Human Services website at www.colorado.gov.
  • Observe cleanliness of center and diaper changing and handwashing procedures.
  • Ask about security of medicines and chemicals in the facility.
  • Ask if the caregivers are certified in CPR and First Aid.
  • Ask about the meal and naptime routines.
  • Ask about transportation procedures if children are taken on field trips.
  • Ask about discipline procedures when children act out or break classroom rules and how positive behavior is encouraged.
  • Observe indoor and outdoor play areas and safety precautions used by staff.

Activities
  • Ask about planned activities and observe the equipment, toys and materials in the space.
  • Ask whether the children are read to daily and look for the quality and quantity of books in each room.
  • Ask about the amount of time spent each day on the playground (30–45 minutes in the morning and afternoon are recommended).
  • Ask about the use of technology (e.g., TV, VCR, computers) in the facility, recognizing that limited use is recommended for young children.

Quality Factors
  • Remember that consistent, positive relationships with caring adults will allow your child to grow, develop and learn.
  • Observe if the caregivers are warm, caring and enjoy their work.
  • Ask if the program is accredited or certified by a recognized respectable agency, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (www.naeyc.org), which has higher requirements than minimum child care licensing standards.
  • Ask about the experience, education and regular training of the caregivers.
  • Ask about the number of children assigned to each caregiver and the number of children in each room to understand the opportunities for individual attention.

Parent Involvement
  • Ask if parents are welcome to visit and how they are encouraged to participate.
  • Ask how and how often caregivers will communicate with you about your child’s progress.
SOURCE: Collaborative for Children Resource

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