By Kirsten Mariotti
When searching for your child’s care and education, it’s important to know that you should look for a licensed center who follows state-mandated rule and regulations. And as a concerned parent, it’s important you know that you can publicly view every licensed center’s latest inspection online.
There are many rules and regulations that we have to follow in a child care center. The rules begin as soon as you even decide you are going to open a center, making sure that there is enough space and materials. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has a Child Care Center Rules Manual that all Administrators and staff must adhere to. Administrators must take 8 hours rules training and all staff must take a 6-hour orientation training which covers licensing rules as well. When a state licensing inspector comes into the center, they will review 57 rules while they are there. As the administrator, you must make sure that your staff is well trained and knowledgeable. These rules can be as simple as one signature on a paper! All child care centers licensed through ODJFS must adhere to the same rules, and if the center is Step Up to Quality Rated they have a few more rules to follow.
All centers will receive at least one licensing inspection throughout the year, but can always get an extra visit. These inspections are unannounced and we never know when they are going to happen.
State licensing inspectors will look for current building, fire, food and playground inspections. They will review all staff and child files for the necessary paperwork. First aid bags, incident reports, daily schedules, meal time and nap time are just some of the items reviewed during the day. One of the most important licensing rules is active supervision. No child should be unsupervised at any time, and all the children must be within sight and hearing of staff members at all times – during indoor and outdoor play, meal time and nap time. The use of mirrors, monitors, etc is not acceptable to meet the regulation. Staff must have an attendance sheet and emergency/family information binder with them at all times as well. Children’s arrival and departure times are marked on attendance sheets immediately when they are dropped off for the day or picked up. Having this attendance sheet ensures that the staff knows who is in their care when they arrived and if an emergency were to occur – how many children would need to be accounted for.
Licensing rules are even more crucial for Step Up to Quality Rated centers – which are centers which go above and beyond for their children by having higher education qualifications for administrators and teachers, using better-written plans, more screenings and assessments through the year and building relationships with families and the community. Rated centers get their regular licensing inspection, plus inspections and regular paperwork reviews on their Step Up to Quality paperwork. If licensing rules are found to not be compliant at either of these types of visits, the center can potentially lose their star rating.
When choosing a child care center, parents should be touring the center, meeting everyone as well as doing the behind the scenes research. Licensing inspection reports are available for review on the ODJFS website. http://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/families.stm
On this link, you can access the Child Care Directory to research any child care program, find child development and behavioral health resources and find out to receive benefits.
Small Wonders Discovery & Learning Centers are 4-Star rated through Ohio’s Step Up To Quality. That means we go above and beyond the state’s basic requirements to provide the best care and education possible for your child. Small Wonders is the highest rated privately owned company in the region. You can publicly view our rating here — http://childcaresearch.ohio.gov/
Additionally, you can read more information about Ohio’s Step Up Quality and each rating’s qualifications here — http://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/stepUpQuality.stm
It’s important to know the information is out there and you can view it at any time. Do your research before you enroll your angel, and make sure you find the perfect fit for them.