Putting your precious bundle of joy into daycare is a big decision for many – whether you are returning back to work or simply need a day to yourself to get things done. You need to feel that the daycare you are sending your baby or toddler to is a right fit for your family and choosing the right one can be quite difficult.
There are various types of early childhood education and care services and you can choose the one that suits your lifestyle best.
- Family day care
- Long day care
- Outside school hours care
The location of the centre that you choose is very important to. If you are working think about your morning and afternoon routine. Do you need a centre closer to work or home? Will you be able to get there in time to pick up your child before they close? Some centres charge penalties for late pick-ups.
Most are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF). There are seven quality areas which services are rated against under the National Quality Standard:
1. Educational program and practice
2. Children’s health and safety
3. Physical environment
4. Staffing arrangements
5. Relationships with children
6. Collaborative Partnerships with families and communities
7. Governance and Leadership
You can find centres near you and their NQF rating using the search function from the Starting Blocks Website - here
We all hear horror stories about daycare centres so it is important to do your research into a few before you make your decision. Visit a few and decide which feels best. Visit during their busiest hours when the kids are awake and stay for a while to observe everything that is happening. Do the staff talk to you? Are they friendly and warm to both you and the kids? Are the kids happy there and having a good time or are they stressed and crying? Is the centre organized?
Ask to see the area where your child will sleep. Is it an environment conducive for good sleep? Does it have blockout blinds and white noise playing? Is the centre flexible with allowing your child to nap when they need to or do they have a designated nap time (this is more so for babies – toddlers generally nap together at the same time).
Questions to ask a prospective daycare:
You can download a list of these questions here
Things to think about when you are there:
Ultimately trust your gut feeling. It doesn’t matter how amazing the centre is or how great the staff are, or if they have availabilities or the cost is low. Trust your instinct, and if your gut tells you to keep looking, then listen and do just that.
Lauryn Stanlake - Infant and Child Sleep Consultant