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School is out and summer has begun. Too often this means parents are left wondering what to do for their children for the summer months. The Child Care Resource & Referral Agency at East Central University would like to recommend parents use the following steps to choosing summer child care:

Look -- Explore all types of care options -- family child care, centers, parents and recreation departments, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, school districts and day or overnight camps. Visit several programs. Do they look safe? Does the staff enjoy talking and playing with the children? After you start using a program, continue to go back and visit.

Check -- How long has the program operated? What percentage of children return each year? Is the program certified or accredited by a professional association? Check references from parents who have used the program.

Count -- Count the number of adults and the number of children adults will be supervising. Be certain there are enough adults to supervise all of the different activities that are planned. Ask if the program requires background checks of all adults working with children.

Ask -- Ask your child what types of programs he or she would like. Involve kids in the decision-making. Look for programs that focus on their interests. Ask about the training and experience of all adults who will be with your children. Do they have first aid and CPR training? Are their discipline policies compatible with your philosophy? Are children able to choose among activities? What do the adults know about child development? How will they encourage your child's independence and build self-esteem?

Be Informed -- Find out about efforts in your community to expand and support summer child care options. For more information, contact ECU Child Care Resource & Referral Agency at 580-436-5202 or 1-800-862-5593.

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