If you’re a mum who frequently commutes to work outside your home, perhaps one of your top concerns is ensuring your child stays safe while you’re at work. Choosing the right daycare isn’t easy. You’re no doubt aware that there have been some dodgy daycare providers about. Happily, the bad ones aren’t in the majority, and there are multiple things you can do to make sure you avoid them. Here are 7 ideas to help you find the best child carers and ensure your child stays safe at daycare:
1. Check the “National Shame Register”
You can automatically reject any childcare facility listed in the national childcare enforcement action register. The services included in this list are all ones that have been sanctioned or suspended for illegal or fraudulent activities.
2. Tour the Facilities and Meet the Staff
Before you entrust your child to be cared for by a daycare center, it’s important for you to meet the carers who will be on duty. You’ll want to ensure they are properly qualified; in Australia, becoming a childcare worker requires a specific qualification plus a background check. Child carers in Australia are required to have a certificate iii or diploma in early childhood education and care.
Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure the carers you’ll work with seem like empathetic, responsive and caring people who are well suited to taking care of little ones.
3. Trust Your “Mum’s Intuition”
You’ll likely have important things you’ll need to communicate to your child’s intended carers. Perhaps your kiddo has food allergies they will need to be aware of. If you sense that you’re being ignored as you speak with the daycare centre staff, or that your concerns are being made light of, that’s a red flag that the daycare centre may not be a good fit for your family.
If you notice that you’re feeling any misgivings, however subtle, while touring the daycare facilities, heed them. Your “mum’s intuition” is one of your most powerful tools for keeping your child safe.
4. Get Recommendations From Other Mums You Trust
If your friends or family members have children who are happy with their daycare arrangements, solicit their recommendations for a daycare service. Happy kiddos are a strong vote of confidence for a particular daycare centre.
5. Check the Ratio of Children to Carers
The National Quality Framework communicates government-mandated guidelines for many aspects of childcare. Specifically, the government maintains oversight on how many children each childcare worker can be entrusted to care for. These ratios vary by state and circumstances. Check the requirements for your state and ensure that your daycare provider meets them.
6. Make an Unannounced Visit
Back in the 1970s, our friend Joan hired a babysitter to care for her infant daughter. One day, Joan was tasked with doing an errand at work and was allowed to go home early afterwards. On her way home, she knocked at the babysitter’s door unannounced. The door was answered by one of the young children in the babysitter’s care.
When Joan entered the home, she was appalled to find that her daughter was confined to a playpen, wearing a dirty nappy and screaming for attention. Empty beer bottles were strewn about the room, and the babysitter was passed out on the sofa.
Sometimes it takes a surprise visit to discover problems with a particular child carer. If there are any ongoing problems, an unannounced visit is one of the most reliable ways to reveal them.
If you have the opportunity to do so, try to drop in to the daycare centre at various times of the day to get a feeling for what the routine is like. It is possible your surprise visits might reveal that all is in order; but it’s also possible that you may be displeased with what you find.
7. Talk to Your Child
If your child is old enough to understand your speech and answer your questions, a conversation can be another one of your most effective options for ensuring all is well with daycare. You can ask your child about the experience and find out how s/he likes the carers. If you have any concerns, you can hopefully get more information from your child before discussing the issues with the carers.
Nobody will care for your child like you do. However, a great daycare has many benefits that are worth seeking out. The above tips can help you to avoid the dodgy ones and find an excellent daycare where your child will be as safe as possible.