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Child Care Centers and Preschools

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The ratio of adults to children in a child care center is one adult for every:

  • five infants (under 12 months) or six infants (12 to 18 months)
  • seven toddlers (18 to 30 months) or eight toddlers (30 to 36 months)
  • twelve (3-year olds) or fourteen (4- and 5-year olds)
  • eighteen school age children (under 11 years of age) or twenty school age children (11 to 14 years of age)

Centers must post their license in a conspicuous place where parents can see it. Full time centers are inspected twice a year for license compliance, while part time centers are inspected once a year. Some centers have exceeded the standards regulated by the state by also becoming accredited by one or more organizations or programs.

What does this setting mean for me and my child?

  • Because centers group children by age, your child will have the opportunity to socialize and learn with their peers.
  • Centers can also sometimes offer a more structured environment for children.
  • It is important to ask about the hours of care provided, since not all centers offer full time care for all ages.

What should I look for in a child care center?

  • Look for current licenses and inspection reports when you visit.
  • At many centers you will find that staff have achieved or are working on more advanced credentials than those required by the state. Staff and directors with education and experience will reflect those skills in the care they provide. Ask about the qualifications of the teachers and director in the centers you visit.
  • Use a checklist, and if your child has special needs requiring accommodations, enhance your checklist with extra guidelines for choosing care.

What Are Pre-School Programs?

The term "pre-school" is used to represent a wide variety of programs. The most common characteristics include:

  • Programs are typically part-time
  • Programs are typically for children who are 3 to 5 years of age
  • Programs are geared towards helping prepare children for kindergarten

The different types of pre-school programs include:

  • Head Start or Early Learning Initiative, offered at child care centers or local public or private schools
  • Those offered at child care centers or local public or private schools
  • Programs affiliated with churches, schools or other organizations
  • Programs that are offered in licensed child care centers

What Should I Consider When Looking at Pre-School Programs for My Child?

  • With whom the program is licensed (Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services)
  • Inspection reports
  • Whether the curriculum is aligned with Ohio Department of Education academic content standards
  • Additional accreditation or quality program participation
  • Program affiliations
  • Availability of transportation (usually very limited)
  • Schedule options


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