Quality Child Care

The case for quality child care.

The type of child care you choose for your child can have a big impact on their future. Early learning builds the foundation for skills needed in school, work and life, with 90 percent of brain development occurring before age 5.

Children who receive quality early child care and education are more likely to:

Step Up Wheel Showing cycle of quality child care

Step Up to Quality helps families identify early childhood providers who demonstrate a commitment to quality care. Step Up to Quality programs go beyond what is required because they strive to do better for their children’s and families’ futures.

Every step counts.

Step Up to Quality is not a typical rating system — it’s a path. Whether a child care provider is at Step 1 or Step 5, they are making a statement: that they want to be the best they can be for the benefit of their children and families.

Programs are rated based on meeting quality standards, which are described in the next section.

  • Step 5 – Far exceeds quality standards
  • Step 4 – Exceeds quality standards
  • Step 3 – Meets quality standards
  • Step 2 – Approaching quality standards
  • Step 1 – Committed to quality improvement

What does quality look like?

Curriculum. Providers should utilize an evidence-based curriculum that is developmentally appropriate, aligned with the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines and incorporates child nutrition and physical activity.

Learning environments. Whether in a family child care home, a child care center or a preschool, providers should adapt learning activities to meet the needs of individual children.

Teacher-child interactions. Teachers should actively engage children in everyday learning with effective teaching approaches that enhance each child’s learning and development.

Child outcomes. Early child care providers and educators should be knowledgeable of developmental milestones and regularly assess and communicate about children’s skills, strengths and needs.

Professional development and training. Programs should be staffed with knowledgeable, effective and professional staff who pursue lifelong learning.

Family engagement and partnerships. Providers and educators should maintain collaborative relationships with families to help support each child’s learning and development.

Program administration. Quality early child care providers carefully select and guide staff and substitutes. They implement sound business practices for managing income, expenses and facility maintenance.