How many children? Improving Florida childcare
To the editor:
In most western countries, childcare is a part of everyday life for most of the children. This is due to the rapid increase of employment over the past 25 years. Formal care, that which takes place in a school or childcare setting, has to meet and abide by rules and regulations governed by the state.
In Florida, as in all states, there are rules regarding child-staff ratio. Quality care improves when there are lower child-staff ratios. Florida’s ratios do not meet what is recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC.) NAEYC is a large nonprofit association in the United States that focuses on the quality of educational and developmental services for children from birth through age 8.
The Florida child -staff ratio for 0-11 months is 1-4, 1 year is 1-6, 2 years is 1-11, 3 years is 1-15, 4 years is 1-20, and 5 years and older is 1-25. These ratios are simply not conducive to quality care. NAEYC recommends ratios that vary with group size. To summarize their recommendations, birth to 2 years of age is 1-4 (based on a group size of 8), 2-1/2 to 4 years is 1-9 (based on a group of 18) and 4 to 5 years is 1-8 (based on a group of 16.) Sadly, Florida falls well below these recommendations.
Florida needs to take a hard look at the quality of care and safety of their children in daycare. The ratios Florida has set are compromising not only the well-being of our children but also increasing teacher job stress. Great teachers who desire to stimulate intellectual, language, and social development in their children are not able to do so when most of their day is spent trying to supervise their children and keep them safe. There simply isn’t enough staff to keep their eyes on the children!
Parents need to take an active part in getting Florida to change their child-staff ratios in daycare! Find your Licensing Supervisor for your county and contact them about your concerns regarding the low child staff-ratios in Florida. Parents and teachers can also consider becoming a member of FLAEYC, the Florida Association for the Education of Young Children, a statewide professional organization that promotes quality in early education in Florida.
Let your voice be heard!