Posts Tagged ‘early childhood education’

a preschool child

Selecting the right childcare for your child has always been a big decision. Although the pandemic brings with it a new set of rules, many of the same questions still leave parents feeling stumped when choosing childcare. Here are some common considerations when selecting care for your child as well as information from Ohio’s two licensing entities, Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (ODJFS).

Select the type of program that is right for your child.  Ohio has different types of programs such as child care centers, family child care, licensed early care and education programs, and child day camps. Each comes with specific licensing requirements.

Do your research. You can learn a lot about a program before ever stepping inside. Get references from friends and family. Search the program on social media to see if you are comfortable with their posting protocols. Do hours of operation meet your needs and are they flexible? Are tuition rates within your budget? What is their Step Up to Quality rating? What is their learning philosophy and curriculum? Review their current inspection reports to verify compliance with licensing rules. You can search your prospects at http://childcaresearch.ohio.gov/.  Once you have narrowed down your choices, schedule a visit. 

During your visit, ask questions and be observant. Are there enough materials for all children? Is the outdoor play area well-maintained and safe? How do the teachers interact with children and maintain ratios? Is family engagement a priority?  What is the pick up and drop off routine?  How are special occasions like birthdays or holidays recognized?  Although many questions should be addressed in the parent handbook, you should also take the opportunity to ask about staff turnover, security, and visitation policies.  If your child has any medical issues, ask how they are equipped to handle medical emergencies.  What are meal times like? What is their philosophy on discipline? Meet as many of the staff as possible, not just your child’s teacher. If you see children sitting in front of a television, keep looking. There isn’t anything a cartoon can teach your child that a good teacher can’t!

Go with your gut. If you get the feeling staff or children are not happy, the environment is not clean or safe, or there is no interaction between children and adults, leave. This is their first opportunity to impress you and if they don’t now, they never will.

Establishing a relationship with the right childcare for your family may take time, but the benefits of high-quality early experiences will last a lifetime! 

Additional Resources for families:





If you cannot afford childcare, you may qualify for assistance through publicly funded childcare. Learn more at https://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/Page4.stm.

Written by Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Butler County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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girl with leaf

Is Your Child’s Preschool Program Up to Quality?

SUTQ (Step Up To Quality) is Ohio’s quality rating and improvement system for early care and education.  It was implemented statewide in 2006 by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), the two entities who oversee the program.

SUTQ was designed to increase the number of highly qualified child care programs and help families identify programs that go beyond minimum state standards.

Providers may earn star ratings (up to 5 stars) as they meet criteria in each of the 5 levels.  Providers who achieve a 3-5 star designation are considered “highly rated” meaning they have met additional performance goals such as:

  • lower staff:child ratios
  • higher levels of education and training for staff
  • increased family engagement

As part of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, Ohio must meet the goal of having all licensed childcare providers who receive publicly funded child care subsidies to be star rated by 2020 and highly rated (3-5 stars) by 2025.  Providers who do not receive subsidies are not required to participate in SUTQ.

Current estimates report between 50-70% of all child care programs in Ohio are rated.  Many programs who have earned the “highly rated” status are part of larger school systems who have designated resources out of a district budget to assist with meeting the additional financial costs with earning star ratings.

Some private and home care providers are fearful that if they are financially unable to meet the requirements, they will lose funding and be forced to close their doors.  Unfortunately, private providers are typically the only option for parents who need evening, overnight or weekend care for their children.

Is my provider rated?

Ask your provider if they are star rated.  If they are, ask when they will be applying for their next rating.  If not, ask if they have a plan in place if their funding is not renewed.

Shop around for star rated programs.  Do some online searching and view inspection reports of child care providers through the ODJFS or ODE websites. Schedule visits and meet the staff – not just your child’s teacher! Remember that your child will have contact with other teachers throughout their day or week.

Ask the site about family engagement. Consider what that means to you, and to them. You should be invited to visit your child’s school often and feel welcome anytime.

If applying for a spot in a star-rated program, be prepared and know the deadlines for enrollment. Some sites will have open registrations and some charge fees to apply.  Have a backup plan if your provider closes or if something changes and you have to pay tuition.

Programs like SUTQ hold childcare providers accountable by ensuring that they hire well qualified and trained teachers, and that they engage families and build strong foundations for all children.

Look for the best childcare provider for your young learner – it will be worth it!



Ohio Department of Education (2019). Step Up to Quality (SUTQ). http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Step-Up-To-Quality-SUTQ

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017). Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/early-learning/race-to-the-top


Written by: Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Butler County, reister.6@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu


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