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Choosing a Childcare Service
Think ahead and sign up early!
As soon as you have an idea that childcare is needed you need to act because there is a huge demand for places. Most childcare facilities have waiting lists and certain areas have very limited services. It’s a good idea to register your child with services even if you are only considering a return to work or school. It is easier to cancel a place than to find one.
Do some research
Pay a visit to the nursery, creche or pre-school you have in mind. It would be wise to make an appointment first as childcare facilities can be extremely busy at certain times of the day. It might be a good idea to bring somebody with you so you can discuss the visit afterwards. These are some things you might want to take note of during your visit:
- Does the centre seem bright and cheerful, with plenty of room and lots of toys and activities?
- Is there a quiet and comfortable sleeping area for babies and a relaxation area for older children?
- How are toileting and nappy changing areas facilities?
- Where do the children have their meals?
- Are there separate rest areas for children of different ages?
- Is there an outside area with toys for your child to enjoy?
- Is there evidence of childrens’ art and creative work?
- Will your child have the chance to explore and create?
- Are doors and gates leading from one area to another appropriately secured at all times
Day to Day Care
- Is there their a planned routine in the day? Are the parents informed of this?
- Is there a system for communication between staff and parents?
- Are the management of the centre open to discussing policies and procedures in relation to staffing, hygiene and childcare practices.
- Can you and your child do an orientation program? (to look around or sit in for a while to get to know the place before they start).
- Are the staff qualified and trained
- Does the childcare facility obey the required regulations for staff to child ratios– for example; is there at least one carer for every three babies?
- Are the staff communicating with the children at their level?
- Are the staff friendly to you?
- Do they have first aid training?
Food Preparation and meals.
- Who provides the children’s’ meals (Parents or Childcare facility?)
- If the childcare facility provides them are they cooked on site or are they brought in from the outside?
- Is a healthy selection of snacks and drinks offered? Do they have a menu?
- Do they operate within the Health and Safety regulations for food preparation and storage?
Other important points regarding Childcare Facilities.
- Do you qualify for any financial support (grants/subvention)?
- Will I pay for days we don’t attend?
- What happens when my child is sick?
- Who else can pick up my child if I can't?
- What do I pack for my child each day?
- How can I help my child adjust to child care?
If you decide to send your child to a crèche/nursery/playschool it is important to make sure you remain in close contact with staff in relation to your child’s progress. Parenting can be a tough job but we get more confident over time. Sometimes another point of view or opinion from a qualified person who is interested in your child’s wellbeing can be a real bonus.
Using a childcare facility ensures that childcare is available to you when you need it. All are regulated by the HSE and staff are trained to a certain standard. Private childcare facilities can be expensive especially if you need a full day care and you are on a limited budget.
Community crèches tend to be less expensive than private crèches as they are subsidised by the government for those on a low income. They are not however available in every community.
Demand for any type of crèche place is high so it would be wise to call and put your name on a waiting list as soon as possible if you think you might be interested