Indicators of Quality Care

The following information on quality is divided into two sections - quality in the child care setting, and quality based on the age of the child. Use these quality indicators as tools to help you make the most educated decision in your choice of care for your child.



  • The program should be inviting to children and parents. Everyone should feel welcome upon arrival.
  • Children's creations should be hung throughout the program, instead of bare walls, purchased materials, or all teacher-made materials. 
  • The environment should be clean and safe, yet child friendly. Consider whether programs that are "too neat" allow for exploration and child focused activities. 

Safety & Health

  • Children are supervised at all times.
  • Providers stay within the ratios for which they are licensed.
  • Meals and snacks are nutritious.
  • There are fire extinguishers, fire exits and smoke detectors.
  • Toys are cleaned everyday.
  • There are no sharp or removable parts on toys that could be swallowed.
  • Outlets are covered.
  • Electrical cords are out of reach.
  • Stairwells are gated.
  • Caregivers and children wash hands before and after meals and toileting.

Provider-Parent Relationships

  • Parent involvement is encouraged.
  • There is good communication between provider and parent. This allows for open communication.
  • Mutual respect is present between parent and provider.
  • Parents are greeted and welcome in the classroom/home at all times. 

Play & Learning

  • Children should have ample time for both throughout the day.
  • Children should have opportunities to make choices throughout the day:
    what activities they would like to do, whether or not to participate in a group activity, etc. 
  • Toys and games are accessible to children. 
  • There are a variety of age-appropriate activities.
  • Little or no television/videos are watched throughout the day.

Program Staff/Provider Qualifications

  • Staff has experience working with children.
  • There is a professional pride and commitment.
  • Staff has training in CPR and First Aid.
  • Staff recognize, and are sensitive to, cultural differences.
  • The program has a low turnover rate in both staffing and enrollment.
  • Staff allow for supervised outdoor play, weather permitting.
  • The program includes a wide range of developmentally appropriate activities, including physical, social, emotional, and intellectual.
  • They have, and are willing to sign, a written contract stating their fees, hours, expectations, etc. 
  • There are appropriate discipline and conflict resolution techniques in place for the children. 
  • There is a qualified assistant and/or appropriate back-up plan for when the provider is sick or away from the program. 
  • They provide daily information about the day - what was eaten, length of nap, activities participated in, etc.
  • They have references available.

Program Accreditation and the Illinois Quality Rating System:

Some programs complete a voluntary accreditation process as a way of showing they have met high standards of quality child care. Participation in the Illinois QRS means a child care provider has gone the extra mile to help make sure children are receiving an enhanced learning and care experience. By earning the distinction of QRS certification, a child care provider has taken additional steps to help give children a good start in learning and in life.

Age of Child Quality Indicators


  • Infants are stimulated through all their senses.
  • Infants are talked to, read to, and held on regular occasions.
  • Adults play games like peek-a-boo with babies.
  • Adults provide changes in environment and surroundings.
  • Infant's needs are met on demand; infants will create their own schedule.
  • The adults will realize that each infant will have different needs, schedules, temperaments, etc.
  • Stimulate learning at all developmental stages during the first year of life.

  • Offer a variety of activities.
  • Time schedules are flexible.
  • Adults provide help in self-control and praise accomplishments
  • Encourage language development - children are read to, asked questions and talked to throughout the day.
  • Adults interact with toddlers in play activities. 
  • Individual and parallel play is encouraged. Parallel play allows the children to play alongside other children, not necessarily with them.
  • Lesson plan/curriculum changes weekly, but also reinforces what the children have learned.
  • Individual small group activities are offered, recognizing the limits of a toddler's attention span.
  • There is time for transition between activities.
  • There is space for exploration.
  • Differences in children's abilities are recognized.
  • Children are able to learn through the environment by active exploration and interaction with adults, other children and materials. 

Twos, Threes, Fours, and Fives

  • There is time for play and learning.
  • Adults encourage language development = children are read to, asked questions, and talked to throughout the day.
  • Individual and small group activities are offered throughout the day. 
  • Lesson plan/curriculum changes each week but reinforces what the children have already learned.
  • There is time for transition between activities.
  • A variety of learning areas and activities are offered.
  • The day's schedule is balanced so children do not feel rushed from activity to activity. 
  • Limits and clear expectations are set.
  • Thinking and problem solving is encouraged.
  • Differences in children's abilities are recognized.
  • Safety precautions are set so children can take risks and be safe.
  • Adults provide help in self-control and praise accomplishments.
  • Children are able to learn through the environment by active exploration and interaction with adults, other children and materials.

School-Age Children (Before and After school care)

  • There is a balance of time for homework and fun.
  • Children are free to pursue activities on their own.
  • Group and/or individual activities are acceptable.
  • If curriculum is provided, it should be fun as well as educational.
  • The area should be large enough for a variety of activities.
  • There are quiet areas for reading and studying.

Childcare Checklist
Download a Quality Interview checklist

Health & Safety Checklist
Download a checklist for Health and Safety

Contact Us

Child Care Resource & Referral
801 North Larkin Avenue Suite 202
Joliet, IL 60435
In Joliet:(815)741-1163 -or- TTY (815)741-1692