The following factors should be considered before selecting a child care service for your child. Visiting a number of local providers will give you an opportunity to observe and compare.
The centre should be an open, friendly environment where children are encouraged to play and engage with one another.
Safety, health and nutrition
The centre should have clear guidelines around safety, health and nutrition, which are made available to you, as well as an emergency procedure. If your child has specific health or nutritional needs, you should discuss this with service providers.
Indoor and outdoor play areas should encourage positive playtime and be safe for children. Some factors to consider include:
- the size of play areas
- if there are areas hidden out of sight of staff member
- the amount of shady areas outdoors
- the condition of play equipment.
Service operations and staff
Different centres may have different staffing structures and styles of management. You might like to consider things like:
- hours of operation
- fee structures
- staff-to-child ratio
- level of involvement expected of parents
- how staff interact with children.
Observing how children are enjoying or reacting to the environment is a good indication of how your child will feel in the same situation. Services should allow children to explore, experiment and to be creative while developing skills. Some centres will give children the option to make more choices and decisions, which is an important consideration for some parents.
Program and development updates
Some children need more support and attention while others may be able to thrive in a group. It is important to check that the service can cater for your child, particularly if individual support is required. Parents may also want to discuss the centre’s methods for reporting their child’s development and how frequently this will occur.