Friday, November 16, 2007

What is "continuity of care" and why is it important?

This week naptime was asked, "What is Continuity of Care and why is it important?" Here is the answer:

The term refers to the presence of a primary caregiver that is consistent from birth to age three. A consistent caregiver reduces a child’s fear and stress and enables the child to explore and learn with confidence. Attachment is very important in the first three years of a child’s life. When a child is in child care, continuity of care can be a challenge. When looking for child care, look for these things:

1.) 1. Is there a primary caregiver? Is there one person who takes care of your child’s diapering, feeding, and napping routines? Does that person share information with you about your child daily?

2.) 2. Does the child care center promote relationships where peers and caregivers stay together for several years, rather than moving your child from room to room? It can be difficult and stressful for a child to move to a new room (with new caregivers and peers) just because of a birthday or because he has reached a developmental milestone like walking.

Monday, October 1, 2007

10 things children learn from play

Many people think about play and learning as being two different things. The truth shown by research is that rich, varied play strongly boosts children’s learning. Children gain powerful knowledge and social skills through play. Here are 10 ideas about what children learn through play (adapted from the Journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, September 2007):

1. Play enhances dexterity and grace. Hand motions required for play include latching, lacing, twirling, tossing, filling, and dumping. Legs and feet engage in kicking, riding, and coordination.

2. Peer play promotes social skills. Children learn to take turns, share materials, ask for help, problem-solve, and work together.

3. Play sharpens cognitive and language skills. Play helps children learn that certain actions result in specific reactions, such as banging a stick on a drum. Furthermore, play involves lots of word listening and hearing of sounds. Play promotes language mastery as children learn to communicate with each other.

4. Preschoolers acquire concepts of numbers and time. A child learns that whether she stacks blocks on top of each other or in a row, the number of blocks does not change. Children also learn the concept of “before” and “after” as they stack blocks to create a stable structure.

5. Play areas promote children’s spatial understanding. Some play activities, like a crawling through a tunnel, allow children to learn about “forward” and “backward, ” “long” and “short,” and “first” and “last.”

6. Play promotes children’s reasoning of cause and effect. Toys help children learn about concepts of physics and chemistry – weight and balance, float versus sink, and gravity.

7. Sociodramatic play clarifies the world of “pretend” versus “real.” Imagination and pretend play are important steps in learning the difference between fantasy and the reality.

8. Play enriches children’s sensory and aesthetic appreciation. Exploring different music and art can arouse different feelings in children and their appreciation of beauty.

9. Play extends children’s attention span, persistence, and sense of mastery. Play helps children develop the ability to focus attention and persist at challenging activities – two tasks crucial to future academic success in school.

10. Play helps children release emotions and relieve separation anxiety. Play allows children to express and regulate emotions appropriately and can provide a valuable window for caregivers to tune into the worries, fears, angers, and happiness in a child’s life.

Molly Talbot-Metz, Mary Black Foundation

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Technical Difficulties .. We want to hear from you.

We just learned that the comment function is not working properly. If you have tried to post a comment and have not seen it, it is because it didn't come through. So instead of using it, we have developed a new email for questions and comments.

As we work to develop new posts we hope you will email questions, comments, and ideas for posts. Again we apologize for the technical issue, but look forward to hearing from you.

Please read the posts below and check regularly for updates.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Introduction to Naptime

Many parents at one time or another need help with child care. Locating and securing high quality child care can improve the quality of life for children and their parents. When quality child care is in place, parents have “peace of mind” – knowing that their child’s life is being enriched during the hours they are apart from each other. Parents seeking child care have many options: family child care homes, employer sponsored child care, child care centers, nannies, and mother’s morning out programs are a few. Whatever the choice, parents need to be knowledgeable about the choice they make.

Look for child care as intentionally, carefully, and thoroughly as you would the perfect family car. Safety is paramount. Does the center meet and exceed state health and safety standards? Do you see fire extinguishers? Are cleaning supplies within children’s reach? Is the furniture in the classroom designed for children? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Finding quality child care is not a quick or easy task. It will require effort on your part, but your child is worth it. Remember, the first years of your child’s life are crucial ones. Children who are nurtured and stimulated during these years are much more prepared for formal reading and math, and are more likely to have the social skills they need when it is time for kindergarten.

NOTE: This post is intended as information only. It is NOT the intention of this blog or the people or organizations posting on it or hosting it to replace medical or other healthcare advice, common sense, or good judgment but to serve as one resource for helping Spartanburg County parents make informed decisions about their young children.

Child Development

No two children are alike; therefore, no children develop at the same rate. Although children develop at their own pace, there are benchmarks that tell us what an infant or toddler might be able to do during certain age ranges. Pediatricians, early childhood teachers, and other professionals use these benchmarks to determine whether a child is developing normally.

There are many factors that contribute to normal child development, such as:
  • Pre and postnatal care set the stage for the child’s development
  • Knowledge of the primary caregiver regarding child development
  • Proper nutrition
  • Talking to and reading to the child prepares him/her to develop language and fosters an interest in reading
  • Surroundings that engage the infant, such as a mobile above the crib and other environments that allow the child to use all of his/her senses
  • Allowing the toddler to play with manipulatives such as blocks, puzzles, and objects that move to help develop cognitive abilities
  • A nurturing and loving caregiver who allows the child to explore and learn about his/her surroundings in a safe and supportive environment.

Keep in mind that children grow at their own pace. Some children will walk or talk sooner than others. Some children take longer to toilet train than others. If you have any questions about your child’s development, consult with your child’s pediatrician.

Contributing Author - Dr. Tom Reed, University of South Carolina Upstate

NOTE: This post is intended as information only. It is NOT the intention of this blog or the people or organizations posting on it or hosting it to replace medical or other healthcare advice, common sense, or good judgment but to serve as one resource for helping Spartanburg County parents make informed decisions about their young children.

Understanding the Types of Childcare in SC

In your quest for quality child care, don’t forget that all child care centers are not created equal. In South Carolina, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is the regulatory agency for child care facilities. This agency is responsible for ensuring that minimum standards are met. DSS issues a license or registration to child care facilities that meet those standards. Below is a summary of some of the more significant regulations, for more details visit .

DSS recognizes four types of child care (Note: child care centers that operate four or fewer hours per day are exempt from licensure)

1. Family Child Care Home (FCCH) – FCCH may provide care for up to six (6) children at any given time. Registration or licensure is required if a person provides care to more than one unrelated family of children on a regular basis (more than two days a week and more than four hours a day).

2. Group Child Care Home (GCCH) – GCCH applies to facilities operating with a capacity from seven (7) to twelve (12) children, and may care for (8) children without an additional caregiver. When the attendance reaches nine or there are more than three children under the age of 24 months, an additional caregiver must be present at all times. In addition, an emergency backup person not included in the staff to child ratio must be available. A GCCH must be located in the residence of the operator.

3. Child Care Center (CCC) – CCC applies to facilities operating with a capacity of 13 or more children. The center must be approved or licensed (definitions listed below) if the program operates more than four hours a day and more than two days a week. Programs that operate less than four hours a day may keep children during school vacations and holidays and may be exempt from licensing.

4. CCC or GCCH Sponsored by a Religious Entity – These centers may choose to be licensed or registered. (see below)

Registered, Licensed, and Approved Child Care
DSS can assign one of the three types of operating titles to child care facilities. They are as follows:

Registered – The child care facility must meet certain basic DSS regulations as required by DSS. The requirements include: Fire Inspection, Health/Sanitation Inspection, State and Federal fingerprint checks, CPR/First Aid certification, and Zoning Approval.

Licensed – The child care facility receives a written notice from DSS approving the commencement of operations. The requirements include: Management, Administration, Staffing, Supervision, Health, Sanitation, Safety, Physical Site, and Meal Requirements

Approved – Applies to child care facilities that are publicly funded with federal, state, county, or city money. They must meet the same requirements as a licensed child care facility.

For more information about the specific requirements and regulations - see DSS's Guide to Key Regulations.

Advocates for Better Care (ABC)
South Carolina parents who meet established income guidelines may be eligible for assistance with the cost of their child care through the ABC Child Care Program. Income eligible parents must be working, in school, or in a training program. Some ABC approved providers choose to become "Enhanced" providers. These providers voluntarily choose to meet higher standards than the state's regulatory requirements.

Parents participating in the ABC Child Care Program may choose who they want to provide their care. The program offers parents a variety of choices for receiving child care services and makes child care more affordable. For more information call 1-800-476-0199.

Contributing Authors - Carolyn Gibson and Barbara Manoski, Spartanburg County First Steps

NOTE: This post is intended as information only. It is NOT the intention of this blog or the people or organizations posting on it or hosting it to replace medical or other healthcare advice, common sense, or good judgment but to serve as one resource for helping Spartanburg County parents make informed decisions about their young children.

5 Steps to Choosing Quality Care

1. Start Early - Start looking as far in advance as possible, even before your baby is born. No matter what type of care you are considering - a child care center or care in someone else's home - finding the right child care option can take some time.

2. Call Resource and Referral - To learn about some of the child care options in your area, call Child Care Resource and Referral of the Upstate, SC at 877-467-4800 or visit
Make sure to ask:

  • What are the child care options in my area?
  • What are the licensing requirements in my area?
  • How can I get information about complaints and licensing violations?
  • Are there child care financial assistance programs for which my family may qualify?
  • Are there any nationally accredited child care centers in my area?

3. Visit and Ask Questions - Visit the child care options you are considering. Find out about these key indicators of quality:

Adult-to-Child Ratio: Ask how many children there are for each adult. The fewer the children for each adult, the better for your child. You want your child to get plenty of attention. The younger your child, the more important this is. Babies need an adult-to-child ratio of no more than 1:4 (one adult for four infants); while four-year-olds can do well with a ratio of 1:10 (one adult for ten children).

Group Size: Find out how many children are in the group. The smaller the group, the better. Imagine a group of 25 two-year olds with five adults, compared to a group of 10 two-year olds with two adults. Both groups have the same adult to child ratio. Which would be calmer and safer? Which would be more like a family?

Caregiver Qualifications: Ask about the caregivers' training and education. Caregivers with degrees and/or special training in working with children will be better able to help your child learn. Are the caregivers involved in activities to improve their skills? Do they regularly attend classes and workshops?

Turnover: Check how long caregivers have been at the center or providing care in their homes. It's best if children stay with the same caregiver for at least one year. Caregivers who come and go make it hard on your child. Getting used to new caregivers takes time and energy that could be spent on learning new things.

Accreditation: Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Accredited providers have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.

For more information about the kinds of things to consider, check out the Parent Guide Book developed by the Trident United Way in Charleston, SC.

4. Make a Choice - After visiting several child care options, make the choice that is best for your child and family.

5. Stay Involved - The work isn't over when you find good care for your child. You and your child's caregiver are partners now.

Here are some ways to stay involved:
  • Have parent-caregiver meetings regularly, and ask questions.
  • Offer to volunteer time when needed, like participating in clean-up days, fixing broken toys, etc.
  • Be there for your child's birthday party.
  • Visit your child at child care and read a book aloud.
  • Join in special events, like field trips, Career Day, or other holidays.

Even if you can't get time off from work during the day, you can still check in at drop-off and pick-up times. Ask the caregiver how things are going, and how your child is doing.
Visiting and participating in events at your child's child care sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child's caregiver that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.

Contributing Authors - Carolyn Gibson and Barbara Manoski, Spartanburg County First Steps

NOTE: This post is intended as information only. It is NOT the intention of this blog or the people or organizations posting on it or hosting it to replace medical or other healthcare advice, common sense, or good judgment but to serve as one resource for helping Spartanburg County parents make informed decisions about their young children.