Quality Early Education and Child Care From Birth to Kindergarten, a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Early Childhood, offers recommendations for how doctors can help ensure that children receive high-quality child care.
Research shows that quality preschool care impacts the health and well-being of children, as well as their future educational success. Evidence-based programs, staff training and adequate oversight are key to ensuring high-quality care is available to children. The policy statement notes quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) are being implemented in more than 75% of states and advocates for inclusion of both health and educational components.
The policy statement offers these recommendations for pediatricians to support high-quality child care:
- Ask families about their child care arrangements and discuss how to judge quality. Resources can be found here.
- Be a medical home that helps children have care plans that meet any special health care needs.
- Help navigate any behavioral issues that arise to avoid preschool expulsion.
- Advocate for safe child care guidelines such as safe sleep, immunizations and safe medication administration.
- Consider becoming a child care health consultant and train staff on health issues at a local child care center. Curricula developed by the Academy are available here.
- Help close the gaps between state regulations and best practice.
- Advocate for expanded access to high-quality early childhood education.
- Educate policymakers about the science supporting the long-term benefits of high-quality early childhood education.
- Become an early childhood champion (ECC). The Council on Early Childhood and state AAP chapters support ECCs in their advocacy work. Find out more here.
The policy statement is published in the August 2017 issue of Pediatrics.