Rebecca White | 6/24/2005 1:21:05 AM
You may have encountered a variety of terms while looking for a child-care program. But just what do Class A, Class B or NAEYC-accredited mean?
LSU AgCenter associate Cheri Gioe says these terms provide you, the consumer, with information regarding a program’s operating credentials.
"Regulating the child-care industry is a must. Research indicates that high-quality programs are beneficial to a child’s overall development and give families peace of mind while their children are not in their care," Gioe stresses, adding, "Whether involuntary or voluntary, regulating the child-care industry benefits everyone."
That regulatory process is where some of the terms come in.
Child-care licensing is mandatory in all states of the United States, but Louisiana is the only one that has two state licensing classifications for child-care programs – thus the Class A and Class B licensing terms.
"In Louisiana, child-care programs are licensed by the state Department of Social Services," Gioe explains. "When applying for a license, the owner may choose to operate as a Louisiana Class A or Louisiana Class B child-care program – with Louisiana Class A following a more stringent set of policies."
Gioe also provides this information on the differences between Class A and Class B child-care programs:
Class A Characteristics
Louisiana Class A programs are the only programs allowed to participate in any type of federally funded programs such as Child Care Assistance and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal Food Program.
Louisiana Class A programs all are required to pay an annual license fee. This fee is based on the maximum capacity a child-care program can handle.
These programs are required by law to maintain daily incident and accident reports.
Louisiana Class A programs may not employ any person who has been convicted of a felony.
Employees are required to partake in 12 hours of child-care training annually. Three of these hours must be state-approved health and safety education.
At least 50 percent of the staff must hold current certification in infant/child and adult CPR and first aid.
For the center to provide medication, at least one staff person must be certified in medication training. That person is the only one authorized to administer medication.
Louisiana Class A child-care programs have regulations that govern group size.
These programs must provide meals and snacks.
Children enrolled in Louisiana Class A programs may not be subjected to any type of corporal punishment.
Louisiana Class A programs must have a written transportation policy if they provide any type of transportation.
Characteristics of Class B Programs
Church-operated Louisiana Class B programs are exempt from paying an annual licensing fee.
With the written approval of the district judge and district attorney, a convicted felon may work in a Louisiana Class B program.
Employees in Louisiana Class B programs must participate in six hours of training – three of which must be state-approved health and safety education.
Snacks and meals are not required.
Louisiana Class B programs may administer corporal punishment to children with the written consent of parent or guardian.
A child-care program accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a program or school that voluntarily applies for accreditation by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.
After applying, the program engages in an extensive self-study. Once that phase is completed, the self-study reports are submitted to the academy, which sends validators for a site visit to verify information about the program. If the program’s self-study and the validator’s site visit are compatible, the program is awarded NAEYC-accreditation.
"The reason NAEYC accreditation is so important is because programs holding this accreditation have consistently demonstrated a commitment to providing a high-quality program for young children and their families," Gioe says. "The greatest focus of the accreditation process is on the quality of interactions among staff and children and the developmental appropriateness of the curriculum."
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.