Jennie Orison, owner of The Jentle Jungle, has been running her family group program for about 16 years and she said that there are several different levels of licensing and each level has its own requirements. The first thing a parent may want to consider is what type of facility is the right fit for them.
“There are several different types of child care providers,” Orison said. “There is the kind where you have a friend or neighbor watch your children, there is what is called Residential certificate which basically means they have CPR and first aid training, but in order to operate there are no other requirements to obtain licensing. Then there is family group like what we do, and finally centers which can have up to 120 children, but they separate each age group so brothers and sisters don’t get the benefit of learning from each other.”
Orison said that there are a great number of state requirements for a family group center that are not required for a typical residential certificate program.
“For instance I have to do 10 hours of face to face (in class training) and 10 hours of self study time educating ourselves on the latest standards and rules, where as a non-licensed provider is not required to do any hours,” Orison said.
“The rules change so fast sometimes, I have gone online in the morning and printed a form for a class that afternoon and when I got there I was told that the form had been changed earlier that day and the one I have is no longer valid,” she added.
Orison said an excellent resource for parents looking for child care is Utah’s Child Care Resource & Referral Agency whose mission is, to support children and families by working with providers, employers, agencies and communities throughout Utah to ensure the availability of quality, affordable child care.
According to the brochure produced by CCRR, in addition to free referrals CCRR also has free information on child care programs in the area and information on how to go about choosing a quality daycare. There are such agencies located throughout the state including an office in Cedar City and they offer a variety of services for parents seeking a good caregiver.
Elisabeth Barker, CCRR director, said in the state of Utah there is a voluntary statewide training certification program for child care providers called Utah’s career ladder program. It is a class that requires 40 hours of learning per level and there are a total of 10 rungs to climb.
“When parents are looking for child care a good question to ask would be how much training has a provider taken,” Barker said. “If a provider says, they have received Level 1 on the State Career Ladder then parents would know that the provider has had 20 hours of health and safety training including CPR and First Aid and 20 hours of basic child development training.”
Barker said she believes quality child care matters and it can make all the difference in a child’s life.
“Children are not cars that can be ‘parked’ at child care,” Barker said. “They need skillful, thoughtful adults planning for and providing active supervision of their day or they will not grow and develop normally.”
Orison said an important part of caregiving is knowing about the developmental stages a baby or a child goes through.
“Sometimes caregivers think just because the babies are little they can just be left to swing in a swing all day, but no, this is when their brains are developing,” Orison said. “This is the time when they need to be active and interactive in order to help them to learn and their brains to develop.”
“These are usually the non-licensed family members or friends that are watching the children but sometimes licensed providers as well so you have to pay attention to who is watching over your children,” she added.
People looking for assistance with finding a child care provider can contact the Child Care Resource & Referral Agency at (435) 586- 8722, call (888) 344-4896 or visit www.childcarehelp.org.