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Readers Respond

Family child care providers offer a natural learning environment

The difficulty parents have finding high-quality affordable child care is not new. Thank you for addressing the issue ("Day care hassles," July 14). The article was correct to say that family child care homes are often more affordable than centers, but it did not address the many facets of family child care that make it the preferred child care arrangement for many families.

A loving, responsive and well-trained family child care provider offers the comforts of home to a small, mixed-age group of children. Siblings can stay together and children can build strong relationships with one provider from infancy through elementary school.

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A family child care home offers a natural learning environment in which younger and older children learn from each other, building skills necessary for success in school and in life. Older children learn to nurture and become leaders; younger children are exposed to more complex language and advanced play.

Parents can evaluate a family child care home by checking for licensing compliance, by looking for indicators of high quality like accreditation by the National Association for Family Child Care and participation in the Maryland Child Care Credential or Maryland EXCELS, and by inspecting the home.

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But perhaps most important, parents need to find a provider who understands that children learn by playing and that an appropriate curriculum will nurture their child's social and emotional skills as well as their language, literacy and cognitive skills.

A good family child care provider who shares a family's language, culture and expectations for children to be successful is a great alternative to more expensive child care centers.

Theresa C. Rivers

The writer is president of the Maryland State Family Child Care Association.


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