When choosing a child care centre be sure to enquire about the management structure of the centre, from an administration level right through to a classroom level. Consider;
- Who owns the centre? In Australia, most child care centres are owned and managed by local government, a community group (including not-for-profit organisations) or a private company.
- Who is responsible for the day to day running of the centre? Is there a management team? Is the Director responsible for decision making as it relates to the children and teaching team?
- Who is the Centre Director? What qualification do they hold? How much teaching experience do they have? How long have they been at the centre? Do they strike you as someone who – has a clear vision for the centre? A passion for early education? Is welcoming, approachable, open and honest? Respects the staff, children and families?
- How is the permanent teaching team structured? Which staff are qualifed versus unqualified? How long have they been at the centre? What shifts do the staff work? Who works with each group of children?
- Who is responsible for preparing, serving and clearing meals? Does the centre employ a cook? What is their qualification?
- What about relief staff? Who fills in when permanent staff are programming or sick or on leave? Does the centre access a regular pool of relief personal who are familiar with the routines and procedures of the centre?
- How are families informed of upcoming staff changes? Other important management issues like fee increases or changes to policy?
- Do staff have regular staff meetings? Who attends? What is the agenda for staff meetings?
- What are the appropriate avenues for family members to provide feedback to the management and teaching teams – Regarding the centre overall? Policies and procedures? The learning program? The educators? The menu? Other important issues?
The ABC of Child Care series of posts aims to illustrate for parents what quality child care looks like in practice as both a tool for parents looking for child care for the first time and as a resource for all parents with children in care. As someone who ran a high quality centre for many years, I believe we all share a responsibility to ask questions and expect results when it comes to the environment and people caring for and educating our youngest and most impressionable citizens.
Find the other posts in the ABC of Child Care series here.
To read more about my viewpoints on child care and early education, check out this interview at Early Childhood Resources.