Posts Tagged ‘Childcare providers’
Sharing the care of your child is a very big step. Research studies have consistently found that the early years of life are critical to the emotional, physical ,social and intellectual development of a child. Therefore choosing a suitable type of childcare can be a daunting experience, particularly for first time parents.CanavanByrne with SafeHands are the adjudicators of the Maternity and Infant Crèche of the Year Award. They explain “75% of brain growth happens in the early years and therefore the quality of the early learning environment can impact on a child’s quality of life, their development and their future. Play has a huge role in developing children’s skills and laying the foundation for happy and competent adults”
Parents in Ireland have a wide variety of options available to them. The type of childcare arrangement you choose will obviously depend on your needs and what is available in your community. Working parents may require all-day care to facilitate their working hours. Families where one parent works at home may choose a pre-school setting for three hours daily. Whatever option you choose it should be convenient, affordable and most importantly provide a quality experience for both child and parent. The term commonly used to describe this sector is Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) which indicates that a “child’s care and general welfare is intertwined with learning and development”
Type of Service
The Crèche or Nursery may provide care from children from 3 months upwards. This type of facility is generally open long hours to suit the working parents and can combine a range of options for parents including full-time, part-time and afterschool care. Crèches and nurseries usually offer a planned pre-school learning programme within the day.
The Pre-School/Playgroup usually operates for approximately 3 – 3.5 hours per day for children from 2.5 – 6 years. It offers a planned play and learning environment. Some pre-schools follow a specific curriculum approach such as Montessori, High/Scope and Steiner. A pre-school that uses Irish as a medium is known as a naíonra.
A childminder is someone who offers childcare in their own home. They provide a home-from-home environment. Some childminders offer a wrap-a-round service i.e drop-off or collection from school.
An au pair is employed as a live-in nanny and can look after children of any age.
In Ireland Crèches, Nurseries and pre-schools are regulated by the Childcare Pre-school Services Regulations 2006 .This means that services are open to annual inspections by the HSE. These regulations also cover Childminders who care for more than three children. Au pairs, nannies, school-age childcare and childminders who care for three children or less are not regulated.
Top Tips for Choosing Childcare
CanavanByrne and SafeHands provide the following tips in choosing childcare:.
- Do your research: Your local city and county childcare committee is an excellent source of information on services in your area. Also ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations
- Do an initial telephone interview: Find out the basics about the service first – age range catered for, opening hours, curriculum, activities, staff qualifications, food & nutrition etc
- Visit the Service: A visit to the service is an excellent way to assess if your child’s needs will be met. Prepare a list of questions in advance. You should expect a warm welcome, a tour, an explanation of the fees, an introduction to the main policies (eg, behaviour management, illness, hygiene, healthy eating, TV usage, security, accident prevention), an introduction to the curriculum and an overview of the daily routine.
Recognising a Quality Service
A good quality service will supply you with lots of information without even asking.
According to our adjudicators good quality services will have a spacious and well equipped indoor and outdoor space with an emphasis on child safety. There should be evidence of children’s creative work throughout the building. Is artwork displayed at eye level? The environment should provide opportunities for all types of play from messy art to quiet activities.
Positive interactions between staff and the children is undoubtedly one of the most crucial factors. There should be warm and inviting atmosphere. Are children relaxed and happy?
Good services will provide a broad range of activities, planned according to needs of individual children. There should be a good combination of child led and adult chosen activities. Parents should watch out to see if the Aistear themes are being used in the services they visit. Aistear (meaning journey) was introduced as a National Early Childhood Curriculum Framework in 2009. It describes learning and development as four interconnecting themes – Well-being, Identity & Belonging, Communicating and Exploring & Thinking. According to our adjudicators high quality services will support children’s learning across these themes.
Another hallmark of quality is a service that works in partnership with parents. What arrangements are in place to share information with you? How can you become involved in your child’s learning? Does the service respect your child’s likes/dislikes? Does the service want to find out as much information as possible about you and your child. Remember a true partnership involved the childcare practitioner, the parent and the child.
You should expect that the staff caring for your child is skilled and competent. They should have a minimum of a Fetac Level 5 qualification and be encouraged to continue their professional development. Staff should also be trained in manual handling, first aid and child protection. They should be Garda vetted and have references. Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of qualifications and training. .
Funding Support for Parents
The good news for parents is that all children are now are entitled to one year free pre-school in the year prior to entering primary school. This initiative, funded by the government makes early education accessible to all children. Interested parents should talk to their local childcare service about this or contact the local childcare committee. Families on social welfare or low incomes may also be eligible for subvention which is a subsidised place. These part-funded places cover all age ranges and are only available in community (not-for-profit) centres at the moment. If you are attending a VEC or FAS scheme you may be eligible for CETS – this is a Childcare Employment and Training Support Scheme providing free childcare places for trainees.
Raising the Bar
Most pre-school services are subject to HSE inspections. CanavanByrne and SafeHands recommend to service providers to display the HSE inspection reports so that parents can access them and ask questions if necessary. These reports list the areas of compliance and non-compliance in areas such as staff/ child ratios, health safety and hygiene, the programme of activities and food and nutrition. Many services work very hard to go beyond the statutory requirements of the inspectors and engage in quality assurance programmes. Such programmes are run by the national voluntary agencies that represent nurseries, crèches, preschools and childminders including the National Children’s Nurseries Association, the Irish Pre-schools Association and Childminding Ireland.
The choice is yours! As a parent you should choose the type of care most suited to your needs. There are advantages associated with all types of care. Some parents may choose a group care setting such as a nursery or crèche for the enhanced opportunities to interact with other children or to avail of a purpose built space. Others may choose a childminder for the intimate care that can be provided in a small home-from-home setting. An au pair or live –in nanny may be the solution for a family requiring high levels of flexibility and convenience. Whatever type of care you choose it is wise to do your homework first!
Angela, May 2012.
The Early Years Sector is now one of the most regulated sectors in the country and childcare providers are struggling to navigate through the mountains of paperwork now required by the various agencies. Early Years Services are open to inspection by the Health Services Executive (HSE), the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). They also need to comply with the requirements of funders under such schemes as the Free Pre-school Year (ECCE). Having your paperwork readily to hand, accessible and organised is half the battle. This article sets out the information you should have in your service and how to organise it.
The Child’s File
Registration File, Getting to know the Child/Family Information Sheet, Accident/Incident Form, Collection Verification, Complaints, Correspondence, Developmental Milestones Checklist, Emergency Contacts, Medicine Records, Parental Agreements, Permission Sign Off Form, Any Other Relevant childcare Forms
Annual Leave Request Form, Application Form/CV, Appraisal Forms, Attendance Record Form, Contract of Employment, Copy of Original Qualifications, Correspondence relating to any changes in terms and conditions of employment, Correspondence relating to grievance, discipline, Garda Vetting Form, Incident/Accident Form, Interview Score Sheet, Job Acceptance Letter, Job Description, Job Offer Letter, Job/Person Specification, Medical Check Confirmation,P.45 ,Reference Check Form, Reference Check Letters Relevant Employment Forms, Sick Leave Certificates, Staff Information Sheet, Supervision records, ,Training Record, Any relevant employment forms
Health and Safety
Safety Equipment Maintenance Records, Health & Safety Statements, Insurance Certificate and Correspondence, List of Suppliers, Pest Control, Risk Assessment, Claims, Service Contractors
The Financial File
Annual Accounts, Bank Statements, Cheque book, Cheque Requisition
CRO Returns, Income and Expenditure Records – it not computerised, Invoices
P. 60 , P.30 if not computerised, Payslips – if not computerised, Receipt book and receipts, Revenue and Tax Information
Salary Scales, Tax Clearance Certificate
Copy of Childcare Pre-school Services Regulations, Correspondence with HSE
EHO Inspection Visit Reports, HSE Inspection Visit Reports, HSE Standard Inspection Tool
Agreed Fees Policies for grant schemes, Application Information, CCS Scheme documentation, ECCE Scheme documentation, Funding Applications,Funding Contracts, Funding Reports, Information from Pobal and OMCYA, Letters and other correspondence to Parents
Staff Master File
Memos to staff, Minutes of Staff meetings, Master copy of all policies, Master copy of notices displayed
What you should have on display
|Childcare||Employment||Health and Safety|
|Staff : Child ratios
Type of care Provided
Behaviour Management – each room
Sleep Room – Sudden Death Infant Association Information
Key Worker – Children
Emergency Numbers displayed in all rooms
|Staff Qualifications – Profiles and Photographs
Person in charge
Employment Rights Information
Staff Code of Conduct and Adult Protection Policy
|Health and Safety Statement
Cleaning Schedules – each room
Nappy Changing Instructions
Fire Evacuation Information in each room/area of building
Risk Assessment Sheets in each room
Child Protection Person name and photo
Fire Officer name and photo
Health & Safety Officer name and photo
First Aid Officer name and photo
Fire Evacuation Officers name and photo
Children with dietary requirements name and photo in kitchen and rooms
Check your Bookshelf!
Do you have the following available?
- Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) (Amendment) Regulations, 2006
- Children First: national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children 2009
- Fire Safety in Pre-schools, 1999
- Quality Childcare and Life Long Learning: Model Framework for Education, Training and Professional Development in the ECCE Sector, 2002
- Siolta-the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, 2006
- Aistear- the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, 2009
- Diversity and Equality Guidelines for Childcare Providers, 2006
The Kitchen Cupboard
Do you have the following available?
- HACCP Folders with original forms
- Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Pre-School Services, 2004
- Shopping Order Book
- Recipe Books
- Sample Menus
Policies and Procedures
The list of policies and procedures required to run an efficient and high quality childcare service continues to grow. Policies should be available in each room of your service and in the staff room, where applicable. Employers should ensure that all employees fully understand and can implement the policies and procedures. All employees should “sign-off” on all policies and procedures.
Angela, April 2012.