Leaving your precious child in a daycare centre can be the toughest thing you would be doing as a new parent. The new environment, unknown people, and the idea of not being around your tiny tot can be extremely unnerving.
Thankfully to some extent, the over 1,200 child care centres in Singapore and the tight regulations laid out by Early Childhood Development Centres Act cushions the whole situation.
Despite everything, you as a parent need to do your job of finding a child care centre that fulfils all the important conditions. We have whipped up a quick checklist for you. Take a look.
1. Does the centre meet all the guidelines laid out by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)?
The agency has set up some important rules and regulations for child care agencies. These revolve around premises, legal approvals, meals, types of courses, the qualification of the staff, sanitary and safety requirements and so on. The rules differ for centres solely for infants between two and 18 months of age. Make sure you check them thoroughly and confirm if the child care centre of your choice meets these. More details here.
2. How is the layout of the centre?
The infrastructure and layout of the centre is a fundamental point to consider while selecting one. The ECDA has listed various regulations around this to ensure easy supervision, apt distribution of space for activities and naps, access to toys and books and the most important – the safety of the children.
3. What is the staff to student ratio?
Children develop better with care and attention. This is possible only if each staff personnel does not have to handle many kids. According to ECDA, this depends on which age group the centre is catering to. For example, if the children are between two and 18 months, the staff-to-child ratio should be 1:5 and for five to seven years, it is 1:25. Check the official website for more details.
4. Are the staff qualified?
The quality of teachers in the child care will have an important impact on your child’s development and learning. So, make sure that the staff meets the qualification requirements as laid out by ECDA. These conditions are around their age, personality, health, work experience and knowledge. The conditions are clear and have to be met by childcare teachers, para-personnel, and edu-carers.
5. How long have the teachers been with the child care centre?
Kids love stability. So, if the teachers who will interact with your kid every day are the same for a long time, they will end up developing a rapport with your child, making it easy for you and your child both. Plus, low attrition rate speaks well for the centre.
6. What time-table will the centre follow?
Since your child will be spending most of his/her day at the child care centre, you need to make sure their time is being spent well. The ECDA has specific guidelines around this to assure the daily programme schedule is structured in a way that it enhances the physical, intellectual, emotional and social development of every child. The agency has also listed out age-appropriate toys each centre needs to house. You could confirm if the centre of your choice meets these requirements when you visit them before registration.
7. What kind of meals does the centre serve?
Food plays an indispensable role in the development of children. So, make sure the centre you like serves food that fulfils the conditions laid out by the Health Promotion Board, is organic, healthy and not repetitive.
8. How does the centre communicate with parents?
Nothing will relieve your anxiety while you are away from your baby than a video of your sweetheart smiling and reading a book or playing with toys. You must be aware of how the child care centre of your choice communicates with parents and how frequently they do that.
ECDA has listed down situations where the centre requires a written authorisation/consent from the parents. This includes emergency medical care, excursions, fetching of children, alternative care arrangements, a profile of individual child development, and food and drug allergies.
Last but not least, find out how you can reduce your cost of child care fees
Child care centres can be expensive. That’s why the government offers many subsidies and financial assistance schemes for parents – Basic and Additional Subsidy for centre-based infant and child care, and the ComCare Student Care Subsidies. All parents with Singaporean children are eligible for the basic subsidy and the additional subsidy can be claimed by families with monthly household incomes of S$7,500 and below. For more details, click here.