The clearest finding of Dr. Greenspan’s research on childcare indicates that regardless of whether a child is cared for by a stay-at-home parent or by a day care provider: “Quality counts, no matter what the setting.” Dr. Greenspan identifies the six criteria for quality childcare:
1. Safe physical surroundings and a calm yet interesting environment that will awaken children's interest in sight, sound, and other sensations.
2. Caregivers who can engage warmly with children and treat them with loving care. Interactions that involve joyous feelings as well as sights, sounds, touches and other sensations to foster learning, language, and attention.
3. Communicative caregivers who can engage in playful emotional interactions. Playful emotional interactions with long sequences of smiles and other facial expressions, sounds, and gestures.
4. Caregivers who can engage a child in long sequences of interactions or long dialogues in which problems are solved. Discussions without words — negotiations with gestures to solve problems.
5. Caregivers who help a child learn to use ideas. Creative elaboration of ideas through pretend play.
6. A caregiver who can be rational and logical, and who enjoys hearing children's opinions and debating them. Debates and discussions that elicit a child's opinions and foster logical thought.
“Urgent changes are needed — in family roles, in day care, in laws and governmental regulations, in corporate policies — before we can truly say we’ve done our best for future generations,” Dr. Greenspan says. Day care facilities need better trained people, smaller teacher/child ratios, and higher salaries for teachers, he writes. We need reasonable childcare leave policies for mothers and fathers; more opportunities for part-time and flexible work schedules; adequate health and mental health insurance; on-site quality day care at large businesses; and tax breaks and other incentives to encourage these policies. And parents have to take the initiative. “These children are our future generations and we as a nation need to take this seriously. We need to shift our priorities — both as a culture and individually — so that the demanding but infinitely valuable task of raising children gets the highest priority…”