Choosing High Quality Child Care and Preschool


High-quality care means that children are engaging in meaningful learning and play, guided by qualified caregivers in an enriched educational environment.  Central Virginia is fortunate to have many quality early childhood programs.


High-quality Care does not always look the same.  Quality programs don't all use the same curriculum or schedules, and classrooms aren't set up identically.  Standards for evaluating the quality of a program can also differ.  There are several "tools" for accreditation and while they may not be identical, they ensure program credibility and enable parents to make informed decisions when choosing a preschool or child care program for the children. 


There are things that parents can look for when seeking high-quality care for their children.


What to look for:

  • Education, training, and qualifications of staff

  • Interactions between teachers and children

  • Effective teachers have the warmth and sensitivity to engage children, fostering self-confidence

  • Class Size:  small class sizes and low child to teacher ratios allow for individual attention

  • Environment and Instruction:  age-appropriate curriculum is used

  • Learning environment fosters exploration, has a variety of materials.  Materials are accessible to children



Virginia Quality 


The Virginia Quality Initiative is one process for improving program quality in childcare centers, preschools and family day home programs.  Virginia Quality in Central Virginia is coordinated through Smart Beginnings.  Virginia Quality is a voluntary process that offers the following benefits to programs:

  • On-site program assessment at no cost to the provider

  • Individual coaching offered by VQ trained Technical Assistants (TAs)

  • Improvement plans with specific goals that meet the needs of each individual program

  • Access to free or low-cost Professional Development / Education Training Hours

  • Resources and materials that support quality improvement



Smart Beginnings CV Partner Programs
** Indicates a program participates in Virginia Quality.
Contact the Child Care Resource Center at 434.485.5944 ext. 265 for information on other programs in Central Virginia.
Center Based Programs:
  • Amelon Early Learning Center**
  • Aslan Castle**
  • Appomattox Head Start (STEPS)
  • Bashful Giraffe Early Learning Center**
  • Bedford Head Start
  • Big Island Head Start**
  • Bountiful Blessing Child Development Center**
  • Discovery Place (AltaVista Y)
  • Elizabeth's Early Learning Center
  • Elon Head Start
  • PCCA Head Start Elpis Center
  • Faith Assembly:  Lynchburg**
  • Fishes and Loaves Ministries (Dominion Kids)**
  • Five Star Academy**
  • Goodview Elementary VPI
  • Huddleston Head Start**
  • Hyland Heights Child Development Center**
  • Lynchburg Christian Academy Early Learning Center
  • Little Light (the Life Church, Bedford)**
  • Little Wings Preschool**
  • Madison Heights Head Start**
  • Moneta Head Start
  • Northern Amherst Head Start**
  • Old Forest Road Head Start
  • Otter River Head Start
  • Randolph College Nursery School**
  • Rebecca's Rainbow Early Learning Center**
  • Rivermont Early Learning Center**
  • Rockfish Elementary VPI
  • Saint Andrew's Preschool
  • Stewartsville Head Start
  • Tye River Elementary VPI
  • White Rock Head Start




Toni Gross, Virginia Quality Coordinator


Smart Beginnings CV Participating Family Day Homes
  • Kathy Brown-Austin
  • Sherry Gammon
  • Vanessa Gunter
  • Belinda Lewis
  • Patricia Parrish



One of the most important decisions a
parent or caregiver will make is choosing
the right preschool or child care program.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions
to help get started in the right direction.