Survey: Half in Oklahoma use child care

By Cathy Spaulding / Muskogee Phoenix Published: December 28, 2008

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The survey showed that Oklahoma children under 6 spend an average 39.5 hours a week with a caregiver or center. The figure is 40.7 hours a week for children under 2. Both rates are higher than the national average of 32 hours a week.

The Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association is a nonprofit organization to promote childcare quality, affordability and availability for Oklahoma families.

Scott said Oklahoma ranks in the top three best chid care systems in the nation.

''And is the only one that annually requires three unannounced visits to monitor compliance with state standards," she said.

New state statutes that took effect in November further toughen standards, she said. The statutes include background checks for employees who provide child care, a requirement for liability insurance and authority to close unlicensed child care facilities.

Finding quality day care

Here are questions to answer in finding a quality child care center:

1. What do you want in a center?

2. Is the center licensed? Accredited?

3. Does the staff communicate well with parents?

4. What is the staff/child ratio?

5. What is the environment like?

6. How does the center discipline?

7. What are the staff qualifications? Backgrounds?

8. Is there a structured schedule? Curriculum?

9. What is the security like?

10. How much can you afford?

11. Are there pending complaints on the facility?

Sources: Oklahoma Department of Human Services; Children's Aid and Family Services of New Jersey.