Many families around Australia are beginning to look for a suitable day care provider for their children next year. With so many different options it can be difficult to choose but there are a few key areas parents can look at to help them make the best decision for both their children and themselves.
If you’re trying to find the most suitable day care to meet your family’s needs, here are the Top 5 things to consider…
1. Find operating periods
Most day care facilities are generally open anywhere between 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
Many centres are closed on public holidays and some during school holidays so it’s worthwhile finding out when they are closed and whether there are additional fees for these periods. What is most important is that it suits your family’s routine and needs.
2. Know that costs can vary
There are two main types of day care facilities but only one is eligible for government subsidies. An approved care centre is one that is being constantly regulated by the government and therefore families are eligible to receive Child Care Subsidies (CCS). To find out more about the subsidies and eligibility, contact the Department of Education. The other type of centre is a registered care which has a licence but it isn’t regulated by the government so there are no subsidies available.
When you are assessing day care options, it is worthwhile researching all the potential costs as there are additional fees which can vary. Centres may charge a waiting list fee and in some cases this fee can be deducted from term fees after enrolment. A bond may also be charged at the time of enrolment. For any extras provided, there may be additional costs.
3. Meet the staff
The actual people who will be looking after your children is possibly the most important factor in your decision. When you attend a day care centre, be aware of how the staff engage with the children and parents, and try to feel if there is a good level of genuine interest and enthusiasm. Find out about employee development opportunities as staff with a supportive environment and room for career growth and progression will often be happier in their role and perform better on a day-to-day basis. Another aspect to be aware of is how the staff move around with the kids; it can be a good sign if staff are engaged with the children and at their height.
You may end up relying upon your instincts to some extent but this can also be useful as we pick up a lot of information without realising it from factors such as body language and tone of voice (and children do this too).
4. Look all around the centre
When you attend the day care centre it is important to take note of aspects relating to presentation, safety and hygiene as well as the general operations of the centre. The front entrance and the rooms should feel clean, bright and welcoming. As your child will experience all functions of the centre, it’s good to also look at the bathroom facilities and coordination, the outside play areas and, of course, the kitchen and the food. You may even find an in-house chef preparing fresh and healthy meals. It can also be beneficial to read through the centre’s policies and procedures manual to get a deeper understanding of the centre’s philosophy and operations.
5. Ask about any relevant extras
With many parents having busier days, day care facilities are offering various additional services to make lives easier for families and some of these may benefit you. Scheduled check-ups such as medical and dental may also be offered during the day at the centre which can save you time and effort. Some centres offer a dinner service for children which is a great option for busy parents who work late. Also growing in popularity are community events held by day care centres to bring parents together for activities such as mother’s nights, Christmas parties and family picnics.
With so many ratings and reviews online, it’s worth doing some research and seeing what other parents have to say too!