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Choosing childcare


Ok - first things first.  If you are pregnant you should already be signed up to multiple childcare facilities.  Obviously if you have checked it out and there are no shortages where you live then ignore the above, but if you live in Melbourne, you should be signed up as soon as you find out you are expecting. 

There is a lot to consider when choosing childcare but ultimately there is not a large amount of choice.  I am going to focus in this post on childcare facilities but obviously you can have multiple childcare options working together, home based care or nanny care.

The key things to think about when choosing childcare:

  • Close to home or close to work?
  • When?
  • How many days a week?
  • Pick up at 6 – who?
  • What's your key criteria?  E.g. inside and outside areas? Is there a kitchen and do they provide all meals?
  • Including kindergarten?
  • Length of time that the childcare centre has been operating?
  • Are there extra-curricular activities eg music and sports class?
  • Budget?

What to look out for in a childcare centre:

  • Length of time that the childcare centre has been operating?
  • What is the ratio of carers to children
  • All Children's Services Centres must be registered with the Department of Human Services. Check the Registration Certificate on the wall to see if it is current. They must also be registered with the National Childcare Accreditation Council and actively participate in the Accreditation process. The Centre will have a copy of their accreditation results displayed. Has the Centre achieved good or high quality in most areas?
  • Holiday period policy – are they open every day?
  • How many holiday days – unpaid can you take?
  • What is their sick leave policy?
  • Opening hours?
  • What is the protocol if parent is late for pick up?  What are the charges?
  • Is the centre clean?
  • Are you free to enter the play areas at any time of the day? – How secure is it?
  • Are the staff alert and active both indoors and out, aware of every child and sensitive to their needs?
  • What is the policy on sick kids?  Eg colds.
  • Is a program outlining children's activities on display at the centre?
  • How are the bathroom times managed - changing, toileting, washing?  Do they help potty train?
  • What is the hygiene routine used by staff when changing nappies?
  • Inside and Outside Spaces:
    • Do the kids have separate rooms by age groups?
    • Do they mix between rooms?
    • Do children have their own cot, stretcher or mattress and linen for sleeping or resting?
    • How safe does the equipment look? When was it installed?  Last serviced?

This is the short list - there are a lot more questions to ask when choosing childcare.