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I’ve been selected as an ambassador for Better Beginnings for the next year. About once a month I’ll write about early childhood education and other issues, which I’m super passionate about. This is a compensated post, but all opinions are my own.
I work from home, and part of the idea when I started working from home (before I was even pregnant or 100 percent sure we wanted kids) was that I would be able to take care of our child in the early years.
Well, that worked for the very early years, but around the time the girl was about to turn two I realized something had to give. I could not be a good mom and a good writer at the same time in the same space. I either needed to quit working and be a full-on stay-at-home mom, or we needed child care.
I got really lucky in that I happen to have a family member who’s an expert on the local daycare situation (as in, it’s her job to know what the best programs are), and she steered us to an awesome home preschool where the girl went for almost three years (no, you can’t go there, she retired) and then to The New School, where the girl just started pre-k (darn that September birthday)!
Find the Best with Better Beginnings
If you don’t happen to have insider information on the child care facilities in your area through friends or family members who’ve been there, don’t despair. If you live in Arkansas we have an excellent resource for finding quality child care that goes the extra mile: Better Beginnings.
Better Beginnings aims to help all kids in Arkansas, regardless of whether they go to day care or preschool, by providing parents and educators with tons of resources on early childhood learning, the importance of play and how to best incorporate learning into a young child’s day.
Better Beginnings is also a program that rates child care facilities and preschools on a scale of one to three stars. They have a great checklist of things you should ask yourself before choosing a child care provider, things you should ask the provider or teacher and things you should look for in the indoor and outdoor environment when you visit to determine the quality of education your child will get there.
You can also use their find child care section to search for facilities that meet your needs, depending on your location, the age of child you need to place and the hours you need care. I searched just for Fayetteville and found 66 centers listed, including 14 that are three-star rated. (And there’s the New School among them.)
When you click on a provider’s name, you’ll see the address and web address, contact information, whether the facility takes part in ABC, Head Start or accepts vouchers. You’ll also see a DHS contact for the facility, can see recent inspection reports and view any violations that the facility may have been cited for.
This is such a great resource if you don’t happen to know anyone in your area with kids your age who went to day care or preschool, or if you just want a sense of what’s out there. It may not be as good as a family member’s recommendation, but it’s probably the next best thing.
If you have a child in day care or preschool, how did you choose where they attend? Did you know about Better Beginnings? If you did, did their ratings play a role in your choice? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I think it’s important to point out that Arkansas has minimal standards for child care — always ranked in the bottom five (of the 50 states) — so people really do need to look for quality programs. The New School early childhood program is absolutely wonderful, but it goes above and beyond the Better Beginnings criteria — it is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. That means they meet VERY high standards! Wouldn’t it be great if there were more NAEYC-accredited programs in Northwest Arkansas???
I’m glad you’ve had insider information to get your child into good programs—and that ALL parents in Arkansas now have “insider” information through Better Beginnings!
What a valuable resource for parents!