Sara Tobin: Quality care is key

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To the editor:

Finding child care for many parents is not a simple task. In many counties across Colorado, the demand for care exceeds the supply of child-care providers. More licensed providers are needed, and more public education about quality child care is needed. This should have been the headline of the story printed Tuesday. ("Providers: Child care database falls short"). The real story is child care is hard to find, and Moffat County is desperately in need of more providers.

What we need to do is encourage community members interested in this field to explore the option of opening a center or family home. We need to encourage these providers to become licensed and invest in quality.

Qualistar Early Learning is the network office for all Child Care Resource and Referral agencies across the state. Each of these agencies maintains a database of licensed providers in the counties they serve. The agency that serves Moffat County is the Family Development Center in Steamboat Springs. This agency also serves Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson, and Grand counties. Parents can reach this agency by calling (970) 879-7330. Another option parents have is to visit www.qualistar.org and click on "Find Child Care" to search the database of providers on the Internet.

Qualistar Early Learning and all Child Care Resource and Referral agencies provide parents only with licensed child care providers, because being licensed is the first step toward having a quality program. And, yes, that list could possibly be 15 providers long; however, visiting a few providers is key when deciding about where you will place your child.

Finding quality child care is an important decision and should not be overlooked. Choosing child care is an investment in your child's future. Making a quick decision now may result in problems for you and your child later. Before choosing providers, parents need to ask questions and observe the programs in which they may be placing their children. All Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, including the Family Development Center, have information for parents about finding care, aspects of quality care and the importance of quality child care for child development.

As the article mentioned, Qualistar Early Learning recently has launched 1-877-338-2273 as another means of helping parents find quality care for their children. This number provides a one-stop shop for parents who are looking for quality child care.

Children who receive high-quality early experiences arrive at school with better social skills, enjoy greater academic success and are more likely to graduate high school and attend college.

Encourage your fellow community members to become a part of these experiences by becoming a licensed provider or by continuing to invest in the quality of their programs.

Please remind parents that although finding quality child care can be difficult, it is important to a child's development, and that they always should demand the best care for their children.

Sara Tobin

Qualistar Early Learning

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