What should you look for when choosing the best childcare service for your family?
We believe each family should make the decision on which centre is the perfect fit for them and their family. So, we have written out some advice on how to choose a centre which will hopefully put the power of making an informed choice back into the hands of each family.
There are many options out there to choose from and we hope each family finds their ideal ‘village’ to support them in these all-important early years of a child’s life.
RATINGS ON THE NATIONAL QUALITY STANDARDS?
The Education and Care Regulatory unit rates childcare services according to the National Quality Standards (NQS) set out nationally. Ratings are important indicators of quality which can give you a short list of services to consider. The highest rating is ‘exceeding’, followed by ‘meeting’, then ‘working towards’ and lastly ‘significant improvement required’. The NQS has seven quality areas with 58 elements under them:-
1. Educational program and practice
2. Children’s health and safety
3. Physical environment
4. Staffing arrangements
5. Relationships with children
6. Collaborative relationships with families and communities
7. Leadership and service management
The NQS changed in February 2018 to now include a much higher level of commitment to achieve the exceeding rating. On the new national quality standards there are three new themes under each of the 58 elements that centres need to fulfil to earn an exceeding rating. The three themes are:-
Theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations.
Theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection.
Theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community.
DO THEY HAVE RECOMMENDATIONS?
Recommendations from friends, the local community in your area and word of mouth are also valuable to check on to see which services are consistently the best.
CONSISTENT QUALITY AND VALUES?
Look up the service online and check their websites and facebook pages to get a feel for the values of each service. This gives you deeper insight to what happens in each service each day and not just what you see on a quick visit.
ARE YOU AND YOUR CHILD WELCOMED TO VISIT THE SERVICE?
Each family looking to find the best childcare is encouraged to take their child and go and see services, meet the team and see if they share your views of early childhood education. You should be welcome to visit the service and meet the people. Does the service welcome all members of your family and the child themselves and allow you the time to feel comfortable and set your child at ease? The best visits are when a seemingly shy little one comes to visit and by the end of the visit are they happily comfortable to play and don’t want to leave.
IS EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROMINENT?
Can you see that children’s learning is valued and supported? Are children busily engaged in activities? Can you see their artwork and learning is displayed as important? Each room should have a programming board where you can see what activities are on the go and why. Each age grouping should have a specific educational program catering to their unique needs at each age and stage of their development. Each child should have some sort of portfolio of their own individual learning journey.
HYGIENE AND SAFETY?
There will be toys on the floor but does the service look and smell clean? There should be multiple aspects to hygiene? Ask a bit about how they clean and what safety factors they consider important. Are they going to the extra effort to ensure children are kept safe in different ways? A good indicator of heath is what foods and drinks they serve. There should be a menu displayed and the kitchen should have been independently audited for food safety standards.
IS THERE EXCITING PLAY SPACES WITH A VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES THAT CHILDREN ARE HAPPILY ENGAGED IN?
Take time to view the service and meet the people, be aware of the atmosphere. Is there a general feel of fun and excitement with children happily engaged in play? Is there a variety of educational opportunities offered to children?
WHAT KIND OF STAFFING TEAM?
Find out about the type of people on the staffing team and what they value. Is there a mixture of ages and experiences evident in the team? Ask a bit about the qualifications they hold, to judge if they themselves have a passion for learning. Is the atmosphere respectful between the members of the team? Do the staffing team look happy and come across as proud of their service?
DO THEY APPEAR TO LOVE THE CHILDREN ENTRUSTED INTO THEIR CARE?
Does the staffing team look happy, are they smiling, and do they look welcoming? Look for how the staffing team react to children if they get upset? You will see a team who genuinely loves being with children. Only people who love the children will go the extra step to create an exciting day for children. You see it in the genuine happiness to see a child, them getting involved in a game or enjoying a laugh with a child. Do you see them offering cuddles and comfort to the children? Do the staffing team ensure they take extra effort each day to create an exciting day for children? There will be artwork, running around, messy play, puzzles, dress ups, imaginative play, songs, rhymes, yoga, stories and many many other opportunities. Does everyone look like they are enjoying their day?
DO THEY SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR PARENTING ROLE?
Does the service offer support to not just the child but to your whole family? A great quality team will have a myriad of areas of expertise to support you and your parenting journey. Do they seem like good solid people with a passion for the importance of the early years education? Ask about their areas of expertise and how they support you.
FIND OUT ABOUT LEADERSHIP
A great quality childcare needs leaders who are passionate and knowledgeable about the importance of early years education. Ask why they are at that service? Ask what their background is and what they are most passionate about? Do they have long term relationships with families? A great way of seeing dedication is to ask what the next step in their personal professional capacity is and what exciting plans do they have for the future of the centre as a whole.
IS THAT SERVICE WORTHY OF BEING WELCOMED INTO YOUR CHILD’S LIFE?
The most important factor comes down to if you feel like that service is worthy of being welcomed into your child’s life and becoming part of your family.
We hope this advice helps families to make the right choice for them.
Kids College is very proud of our relationships with our children, our families and our community over our ten years. We have always been an exceeding childcare and are proud to be making a difference to our community and to the whole Kids College family.
KIDS COLLEGE PHILOSOPHY QUOTE
‘Kids College has a profound passion and dedication to our part in raising our children. We believe that each child has the right to a happy, safe, secure and educationally focused childhood. We provide loving care to our children as well as a commitment to providing the best quality educational experiences. Our philosophy is reflective of our shared values and is embedded into every aspect of our service. Our practices are informed by critical reflection and are shaped by our meaningful engagement and partnership with our families and our community’.
6.1 Supportive relationships with families. Respectful relationships with families are developed and maintained and families are supported in their parenting role.
6.2 Collaborative partnerships. Collaborative partnerships enhance children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing.
KIDS COLLEGE FAMILY
At Kids College we work each day embedding our values and philosophy into each facet of what we do. We continually improve our practices by critically reflecting and engaging in meaningful relationships with our community and for this we need your support and input. Make sure to follow Kids College Childcare on facebook, watch for our regular emails and keep an eye on our Kids College website. Join our Kids College family community and share in our vision of creating the very best childcare where children experience love, laughter and learning every day. You can reach us on [email protected]
With love, laughter and learning from your friends in the ‘village it takes to raise a child’
Teacher Jen and the Kids College Childcare family