Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2021 at 11:18 am

There are many different types of childcare and early education services. It is difficult to choose what is best for your child. The following guide will assist you to choose the best childcare facility to suit your child:

It is important to remember that play is the cornerstone of early childhood development. It is therefore important to find a childcare facility that recognises play as an important medium of learning.

All childcare and early pre-school education services should have:

•    Experienced or trained staff

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•    Safe and clean premises

•    Appropriate child to staff ratio

•    Appropriate fun and daily activities

Experienced or Trained Staff

To work with small children is a skilled and very demanding occupation. If staff are trained it gives them the necessary confidence to deliver quality services to your child and family.

Questions to ask about staff training and experience:

•    Are teachers and caregivers appropriately trained with relevant experience?

•    Are staff members certified in basic first-aid?

•    Are staff trained in child development?

•    Are staff trained in identification of child abuse?

•    Are staff trained in the prevention of injury?

•    What is the staff turnover per year?

•    How are staff recruited?

Safe and Clean Premises

All children deserve safe, comfortable, well equipped childcare/ day care premises. Good characteristics are a bright and cheerful venue, clean, safe and also child friendly.

•    Are Safety policies in place, i.e. medication administration, accident reports, health and safety    policy, drop off and collection etc?

•    Are building ad playgrounds regularly checked for safety?

•    A checklist is available from the Child Accident Prevention Foundation: Questions include:

o    Are poison control and emergency numbers next to the phone?

o    Are children protected from strangers?

o    Are regular fire drills practised?

o    Are young children able to get to high places?

o    Are all electrical outlets covered?

o    Are toys age appropriate, kept clean and safe?

o    Are playground equipment age appropriate and have safe surfaces underneath?

o    Are safety gates used?

o    Does the centre use safe heating appliances?

Appropriate Child to Staff Ratio

It is important to know how many children there are for each staff member. If the childcare facility is overcrowded and the rotation is not appropriate then the safety and care of children will be jeopardized.

It is also advisable that elder and younger children are separated.

Appropriate Fun Daily Activities

•    Does the school programme include parent involvement? If so what does it entail?

•    Is the atmosphere happy, caring and child-centred?

•    Are programmes and weekly planners on display in each classroom?

•    Is the school up to date with new developments in education?

•    What is the centreâ??s procedure on discipline and other issues?

Choosing childcare ands early education is a big step for you and your child but should not be a scary situation. Parents should give themselves enough time to visit several possible options to determine what suits their childâ??s needs.

Look out for the following signs that might suggest problems:

•    No involvement of parents in the daycare practices

•    Unexplained accidents

•    High staff turnover

•    Staff fails to answer questions and address parents concerns

•    Management cannot offer written copies of policies of day care/crèche

Reprinted with kind permission of CHILDSAFE. For more information go to www.childsafe.org.za