In my naivety in my life bb(before baby) I thought choosing a childcare option would be simple. When I make decisions, I do my research and armed with the facts I make my choice, confident in my decision. I didn’t factor in the impact having a baby would make on your decision-making process. How emotions play a huge part, and your heart rules your head. You have to go with what’s right for you and your family given your circumstances. It can be a fraught time, sleepless nights(which are not helpful when the baby is actually sleeping) and in Ireland no matter what option you look at its expensive and really makes you question what you did with all your money pre baby?!
There are three main options out there crèche, child minding either in your home or their home, family. For us, I had decided to go back to work part-time, as I felt it was the best option for our family at this time. Meaning we all got the best of both worlds. It immediately meant that our pool of childcare options were cut as many childminders don’t work part-time. Our family, while all fantastic, were not available to look after Little A, so we started looking at crèches in the area. We are fortunate, as there are quite a few, however places can be difficult to come by, so if you have your heart set on somewhere, make the call to visit the facility sooner rather than later. When it comes to securing childcare, it’s never too early(ok well if you aren’t pregnant it might be too early!)
For me I had to remind myself that no childcare option was going to replace me and no one would do things the exact way that I did eg there would be snotty noses that would not be wiped maybe immediately. Although as I write that I notice Little A is snotty and I hadn’t noticed! Eek.
He adores the interaction, and sometimes there are tears more often than not they are mine. But whenever I arrive to collect him he is having the best time, laughing, smiling, generally just having so much fun, as are all the other little ones. It’s complimenting our parenting style, and so far everyone is happy.
Here’s a list of questions I complied from various books, online sources and word of mouth.
- Is the atmosphere warm, relaxed and welcoming?
- Do the children look comfortable and relaxed?
- How many children are at the facility. What’s the child to staff ratio in all of the rooms?
- Have the staff a good level of qualifications and experience?
- What is their staff turnover?
- Is there good interaction between the children and staff?
- What additional staff are employed by the facility, what are their roles?
- How are the age groups mixed? E.G. What age does the baby room go up to?
- When do they move room? Is it child or age dependent. This was a very important question for me as I didn’t want Little A moved if he wasn’t ready.
- Is there a broad range of activities available and is there evidence of these?
- Is there a good variety of toys/equipment to suit the ages and abilities of the children and are they clean and in good repair?
- If looking at a baby room, is there a separate room for sleep in a cot? How is this monitored?
- Is there outdoor space? When do children get to go outside? Are babies brought outside?
- How often is the room cleaned / disinfected?
- Are parents encouraged to become involved in the service and how?
- How does the service inform the parent of the child’s progress and general well-being?
- Has the service appropriate policies and procedures in place? Some of the key ones include – admissions, fee payment, complaints, child protection, positive behaviour management, recruitment, collection of children, equality and diversity.
- What is the illness policy?
- Is there an open door policy?
- What is the food like? Is it prepared on site from scratch or a separate supplier. If you have allergies/food preference how are these treated?
- Where do the babies/children eat?
- What is the schedule for meals?
- Ask to see the nappy changing area?
- What is included in the price? Do you have to bring your own nappies / formula etc?
- If you are looking for part – time, what are the hours / days they suggest? If you do shift work / rostered can they facilitate this?
- Is there a place available for your child
- What are the opening hours of the service?
- Do they offer the ECCE scheme or an early education programme, and for what ages does it apply?
- What is their cost structure?