Diverse parents and children

5 Tips for working parents when choosing a great childcare centre

Choosing a childcare centre can be daunting as it can be difficult to evaluate the quality of services, not to mention that it’s a very important decision for your child. So here are our top 5 tips to help you on your way to choosing a great childcare centre:

  1. Go on a tour. Most childcare providers will offer a free tour where the Director usually takes you through the facilities. I recommend completing any tours prior to baby’s arrival if possible. It tends to be easier than trying to coordinate around naps/feeding times, and needless to say, babies can be uncooperative! A few key things to look out for on the tours would be the way staff interact with the children, the quality of the food (go at meal times if you can), and safety of the physical environment (eg make sure there are no broken safety gates). I would also recommend asking about staff ratios (ie how many staff members to how many children. You can check if they comply with the Australian standards here https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/educator-to-child-ratios ) and staff turnover rates (there is typically high turnover in this industry such that I recommend going on another tour just prior to starting your child in care to ensure those great people are still there).
  2. Check the centre’s quality rating. If you’re in Australia, the National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a national benchmark for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care services in Australia. Services are assessed and rated by their regulatory authority against the NQS, and given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas and an overall rating based on these results. If you’re in Australia, you can check centre ratings here https://www.acecqa.gov.au/resources/national-registers/services?s=
  3. Enrol early. Some centres can have extremely long waitlists – with some having children’s names added shortly after birth! Needless to say, the better centres typically have the longer waitlists so it’s best to get on one as soon as possible. I’d also recommend putting your name down at more than one centre to increase your chances of getting a spot at the time you need it and to ensure you have some choice when the time comes.
  4. Availability of days. Ask about availability for specific days. Make sure you’re across which days are full and which tend to have more availability (it’s typically Mondays and Fridays as they’re less popular workdays). This could help you get in sooner and then you could transition to your preferred days later on (current families at a daycare tend to be offered new openings first).
  5. Ask if they offer a program to transition your child into care. Basically it’s a free two week program where you and your child attend the centre a few times to get familiar with the new environment and the staff. Typically you start with short periods that are gradually increased, with the parent initially supporting the child to eventually leaving them alone with their new carers. Most good centres will offer this as it’s in everyone’s best interests to have a smooth transition into care.