Maryland EXCELS: Helping Families Search for Quality Child Care

Families have a lot to consider when looking for the proper child care and early education program for their family. Cost, location, and availability are important factors—but quality is the most crucial factor.

Maryland EXCELS helps families choose quality child care and early education programs that meet their needs. By searching for a Maryland EXCELS quality-rated program, families are choosing from programs that emphasize achieving high standards and implementing practices that support children’s development and learning.

Families can easily search for programs in the Find a Program Directory on the Maryland EXCELS website. Search categories include location, quality rating, and other achievements. Qualifications for each quality rating are also viewable.

As participants of Maryland EXCELS, child care centers, school-age child care programs, family child care homes, and public prekindergarten programs earn ratings on a progressive scale from 1 to 5. A quality rating of 1 indicates a program has met initial quality requirements. A rating of 5 signifies a program has demonstrated the highest quality rating.

With each level of quality, the program is meeting more stringent requirements in areas such as curriculum, teacher training and qualifications, degrees, and other staff development activities that make teachers better teachers, and family child care providers more adept at their jobs.

Families can naturally have anxiety about leaving their children under another person’s care and guidance. Therefore, it’s essential to seek a provider with the proper skills, qualifications, personality and environment to suit their children’s needs.

Interviewing programs is an excellent starting point. MSDE’s Division of Early Childhood provides guidance on how to start these conversations, and offers other valuable information to help families find the best fit.

Here are some additional questions families can ask to gain a clearer understanding of how a program or provider operates:

  • What curriculum do you follow?
  • How much time do the children spend working with the curriculum?
  • What are some examples of culturally-inspired activities you do with the children?
  • If a special education teacher, speech or occupational therapist works with your child, where in your house or center can this person conduct sessions with my child?
  • How are disagreements between children handled?
  • What do you do if a child is having a rough day or seems out of sorts?
  • What do you do if a child doesn’t want to participate in an activity?
  • What are your child care center or house rules?
  • How do you enforce the rules and what are the consequences for not following the rules?

The more a family knows, the more informed they will be.

Does your family need help with child care costs? You may be eligible for the Child Care Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance to working families in Maryland. The Maryland Family Network’s LOCATE: Child Care Service enables families to find child care either via telephone or online.