Though some daycare operators can only claim to provide top-notch service, Barbara Houk can prove it.
Houk, owner of Bestcare Childcare, recently received accreditation from the National Association for Family Child Care, a reputable group based in Salt Lake City, Utah. It took over half a year to become certified, but Houk said it was worth the while.
"You have to meet all of their regulations, and that can take a year," Houk said. "After you claim to have everything set to the criteria, an advisor comes to examine you. The advisor then takes her case to the Board of Trustees. They decide if you're going to get the certification or not."
Houk also said that there are "so many points, but you don't have to meet them all."
"There are still a lot to meet, though," she continued.
Parents are also involved in the decision-making process, filling out surveys for the provider. There has to be a 90 percent turn-in rate for the surveys to be accepted, said Houk.
Criteria to achieve certification by NAFCC includes relationships, the child's environment, and developmental learning goals as set by the operator. Each of these (along with others) have sub-sections that the day care owner must also comply to.
Houk said that she couldn't name the number of day care centers in Indiana with NAFCC certification, though there are only seven day care homes (like Bestcare) that can claim it.
"And there is a big difference between a center and a home," she said.
Of the other seven day care homes with certification, two are located in Vigo county.
Bestcare, which has been open for 16 years, currently watches nine children, ages 4 months to 11 years.
"We take newborns 4 months and older up to 11- year-olds," Houk said. "So, it seems like there's always something new."
Study for the certification is self-paced. Houk has recorded 71 and a half hours of training, and has gone as far as New York City to take classes.
"I go to all the trainings I can," she said. "The trip to New York was very exciting, very interesting."
Bestcare's only employee is Nicole Reedy, Houk's assistant. Along with NAFCC certification, the daycare has received a certificate from CDA and a state license. A Head Start "mentor," Rhonda Galloway, visits the facility once a week to help teach the children. Additionally, BestCare adheres to 4C's "Building Blocks to Quality Child Care" standards, reaching their highest rating, the sixth block.
"We're proud of what we've done," Houk said. "The NAFCC name is pretty well known in day cares. Their information is handed out all the time."
So, with new certification in hand, Bestcare Childcare keeps taking care of Clay County's children.
"I've had a lot of kids here over these 16 years," Houk said. "I really enjoy them.
"People ask me if I would open another, and I say no. I don't want to be the businessperson, I want to be the one with the kids. We're all friends here."