It was a sad and scary thing for families in Juneau to learn that a childcare provider was shut down on Wednesday after allegations of abuse. Parents rely on their childcare program to provide a safe and nurturing environment where their children can play, grow and learn. We all want for children (in care) to be in a quality childcare situation which focuses on the importance of early learning in the development of children. Unfortunately, there is a distinct lack of childcare options in Juneau. While there are many quality programs in town, they are often full. Even if they offer a waiting list, this doesn’t help the parents needing immediate care.
So what’s a working parent to do? How do you find an opening at a childcare program and how do you assure that the program provides quality care? I work at the Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) and in conjunction with statewide thread services, we offer free and confidential child care referral services to families, as well as trainings and quality enrichment for providers. We maintain a list of current vacancies in licensed or approved child care programs, both in homes and centers, with information about the programs and qualifications of staff. Interested parties can call our office to tell us what they’re looking for — age of vacancy, program type, part time/full time, etc. — and we will generate a list of relevant providers.
It is important to note that we provide a list of referrals as opposed to recommendations. There are several tools we give to parents to assist them in choosing a provider that will work best for their family, including a guide to quality care and education for Alaska’s families.
This guide includes a checklist to use when interviewing potential providers, which we strongly encourage all families to do.
There is no better way to get a feel for a child care provider than to visit the program to observe and ask questions. Parents can also call the State of Alaska Child Care Program at 465-4756 if they have any concerns about program health or safety violations.
While Wednesday’s events are disturbing, they are also an important reminder of our continued need to support families and quality providers in Juneau so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
Family Services Coordinator