Summertime child care is always a challenge for parents. School age children often feel that they are too old for day care, but parents want to ensure their children are safe as well as have an enjoyable summer.

However, cost is a factor with a lot of parents who feel their child is just on the edge of being independent.

While it may be tempting to use an unlicensed person to care for your child, it is also illegal. Ensuring your child’s safety should be more important than saving money.

Oklahoma enacted a licensing law in 1963 that requires anyone caring for children who are not relatives, in a regular and consistent manner, must be licensed by the state, according to Quen Wilczek, licensing specialist for Payne and Pawnee Counties, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Wilczek said even if the child care provider cares for one child a week on a regular basis, they must be licensed.

However, she noted there are exemptions for licensing in the event care is less than 15 hours per week and for informal arrangements with friends and neighbors for occasional care.

If a youth comes into a home to care for a child, this is an exception to the rule, said Linda Webb, childcare licensing specialist for Oklahoma DHS. Another exception is a hired nanny working out of your home.

If a parent chooses to take their child to the home of a teenager, this is done at the discretion of the parent. Since a teenager can not operate a licensed facility, this choice is left to the parent.

Caring for children without a license can be reported to the state licensing division and investigated by state licensing staff.

If a person is found guilty of running an unlicensed child care facility, they could face the possibility of fines and prison time, added Webb.

Licensing staff can offer assistance to care providers, helping them become licensed.

Security, routine and positive relationships can be developed when children have the opportunity to remain with a stable provider. Benefits of licensed care also include a safe and supervised environment for children, resources for providers and economic advantages through food programs and contracting with the state and tribal entities.

Parents can use a quality checklist developed by The National Association for the Education of Young Children.

NAEYC’s provides families with a shorthand way to determine if a program provides excellent care and education. High quality programs should meet the following standards, as outlined in the NAEYC accreditation system:

• Promote positive relationships for all children and adults.

• Implement a curriculum that fosters all areas of child development - cognitive, emotional, language, physical and social.

• Use developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches.

• Provide ongoing assessments of child progress.

• Promote the nutrition and health of children and staff.

• Employ and support qualified teaching staff.

• Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with families.

• Establish and maintain relationships and use resources of the community.

• Provide a safe and healthy physical environment.

• Implement strong program management policies that result in high quality service.

Parents can learn more about program standards and accreditation through their website at .

Childcare licensing standards and procedures for licensing can be located at local Oklahoma Department of Human Services offices through the Division of Childcare.

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