What to Look For in Child Care Centres
Families seeking quality care for children are encouraged to consider what the best questions to ask are, and what to look for in a quality rated child care service. When choosing child care it is important to look at how carers and staff interact with the children and whether the atmosphere is warm, friendly and welcoming.
Some additional questions you might like to ask are:
How do I know if you are a good quality centre?
In our last review, we were awarded Exceeding in All Areas of the National Quality Standards. This review rates our centre in the following areas:
- Educational Program and Practice
- Children’s Health and Safety
- Physical Environment
- Staffing Arrangements
- Relationships with Children
- Collaborative Partnerships with Families and Communities
- Leadership and Service Management
Am I welcome to visit my child at any time?
Absolutely, parents and family are welcome to visit the centre at any time.
Is my child made to feel welcome?
Every morning your child is greeted by all of our friendly staff, and made to feel welcome, loved and settled.
Are family members encouraged to participate in activities?
Definitely! We actively seek input from all of our families in a number of ways. You can come in at any time of the day and take part in our activities, you can book in a ‘special time’ to come to the centre to share your skills and talents. (Can you play an instrument? Do you have time to read a story?) In addition, our program is based on our children’s interests, so we love to hear from our families any stories of what they’re enjoying at the moment, and suggestions for programmed activities.
Is information shared between the staff, carers and families?
Every single day we share information between staff, carers and families. We communicate informally, when you come in the mornings or evenings, as well as phone calls and emails if required throughout the day. We also share information with families on our Facebook page.
We also have ‘Learning Stories’ for the children, to communicate with their families about all of the exciting activities they get up to during the day. We take photos of the children each day, and incorporate them into the learning stories in each room so that you can see what they’ve been discovering throughout the day.
Is information readily available about the child care service’s policies?
Yes, when you start at the centre you will be given our Parent Handbook. This outlines the basic policies of the centre. In addition we have a comprehensive Parent Policy Manual in our foyer at all times, and we invite all families to read and review the policies.
Are families informed about proposed changes to policies?
Policies are continually being reviewed by our families and staff to ensure that we are keeping up to date with ‘best practice’ in the child care sector and reflecting the changing needs of our families. Prior to any changes, a draft is displayed in the foyer, with parents invited to add comments and suggestions. Once a final copy is made, this is communicated to families via newsletters. You are welcome to attend our Parent and Carers Interest Group meetings to raise concerns about particular policies you believe need review.
Is there a planned program of day to day activities for my child?
Yes, while our program is an ‘interest-based’ / emergent one, thorough planning and thought go into each experience. Displayed in the room are the planned indoor and outdoor routines for the children. This is then reflected each day in our Learning Stories – which are displayed for parents to read each evening on a computer slideshow. We also email the Learning Stories to our families once a week.
Am I encouraged to talk to staff or carers about the program/s offered?
Yes, we encourage families to provide as much feedback on our programs as possible (see next point). Feedback and input can be given in a variety of formats, including (but not limited to) writing in the parent communication diary, feedback via portfolio and informal discussions with staff.
Do the activities interest my child?
Definitely! All the planned activities and experiences are based directly on the individual interests of the children. Staff observe the children carefully, speak with them and communicate with families in order to find out what most fascinates each child. In this way, children are more interested in what they are learning as the subject matter is something that they are already curious about.
Will my child have opportunities for self expression, self direction and self discipline?
We encourage independence with the children in our care from an early age. They have many opportunities to guide the program through personal interests which they can share from home. Self expression is encouraged through open-ended activities and an emphasis on the process rather than the product. At any time of day there are a variety of activities for your children to choose from. The children are involved with setting appropriate room rules and developing fair consequences.
My child is a fussy eater; what can you tell me about meal and snack times?
We have a designated dining area in each room where children eat their lunch, which allows the children to spend a relaxed and enjoyable meal time together without worrying about the space being needed for other activities. Meal times are viewed as a social event and children and staff sit together and enjoy the wonderful food that is prepared by our fantastic cooks.
Will my child’s individual needs be met?
Of course! We have a commitment to caring for all children’s individual needs and we do this through an individualised program, and care, for each child. Portfolios are kept on the children, which provide families with detailed information on how their child is developing throughout the year. Parents are encouraged to communicate both formally and informally with staff about their child’s changing needs. Staff then modify their routines, programs etc to meet the needs of all of our children.
Are there opportunities for my child to become familiar with the broader community?
Yes, we offer a range of experiences whereby the children have contact with the broader community, including a variety of excursions and on site experiences (where someone comes to us) throughout the year. Periodically throughout the year we will invite local community agencies into the centre to talk with the children. This may include the fire brigade, police or petting zoo. Other ‘internal’ experiences have included community organisations such as Wildlife Rescue Services and Multicultural Story Tellers. We also take the children off-site to local, relevant places of interest for the children, eg local shops, the library, looking at a construction sites etc. In addition, our families are encouraged to spend time with the children in groups – for example reading stories, singing songs, playing instruments, cooking experiences. Our children are fascinated by the new experiences our families and the community can offer.
Are the children encouraged to explore and take on new challenges?
Yes, while all experiences are age appropriate, we aim to provide a program that constantly stimulates and excites the children by allowing them to try new things, learn new skills and investigate subjects that interest them. As the program is based on children’s interests, they are constantly learning about new and different topics. Staff ‘scaffold’ experiences – that is, by observing what the children are doing, and consider how to extend and develop these activities, in ways that encourage the child to tackle a new challenge, or learn a new skill.
Are the equipment and play spaces safe for children?
We are extremely vigilant in ensuring that our equipment and the environment in general, are constantly safe for children. We have daily checks of the playground and indoor spaces and we remove or fix and hazards immediately. All of our equipment is safety certified, and configured in ways to avoid potential risks. However, if you notice anything of concern, please bring that to our attention immediately.
Are there clear procedures for raising any concerns I may have?
Yes, parents are welcome to talk to Room Leaders, the Director or the Approved Providers (Nesha and Lorna) at any time when they have an issue or concern. The step by step procedures are clearly identified in our Parent Handbook, which is given to each family upon enrolment.