The ABC of Child Care

You may be surprised to learn that not all child care centres in Australia are nationally accredited, that is assessed as meeting the highest quality standards for children. Currently centres each have the choice whether to become accredited or not. Considering research continues to demonstrate that high quality child care is associated with improved learning and development outcomes for children, we need to question why a centre would choose not to undergo the accreditation process. What do they have to hide?

The ABC of Child Care series of posts will illustrate what quality child care looks like in practice and aims to be both a tool for parents looking for child care for the first time and as a resource for all parents with children in care. Although in some areas parents have little or no choice when it comes to finding a child care place due to limited availability, 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. Knowledge is power and you have a right to work with your Centre to ensure that it is meeting the needs of your child and family.

A is for Ambiance

When you visit a child care centre, use all of your senses to assess both the environment and the atmosphere.

Some questions to get you started;

♥ Are the staff welcoming to you and your child?

♥ Do the children appear happy and engaged in fun, purposeful activity?

♥ Are staff actively supervising and playing with the children or standing around chatting amongst themselves?

♥ Do the playrooms look cheerful, well organised, well resourced and well cared for?

♥ Does it appear that the staff take pride in the Centre?

♥ What does the Centre sound like? Happy, busy children noise or chaotic and distressed children noise? They do sound different!

♥ What does the Centre smell like?

♥ Does the centre look clean?

♥ Who is responsible for cleaning? In Centre’s where staff assume much of the responsibility for the cleaning, those tasks take them away from time spent caring for and educating the children.

♥ Is their good visibility between rooms, and into areas like bathrooms, so that children can be easily monitored and supervised when using different areas?

♥ Does the outside play area look fun, engaging and well planned? Is their provision for all types of play, not just active play but also quiet play?

♥ What is your general impression of the centre? Does it feel homely or bare and sterile?

Pop back next Thursday for more ABC of Child Care. B is for… Behaviour!


  1. Narelle Nettelbeck says:

    I like your list 🙂

    Now you know I'm biased towards Family Day Care so parents can put this list into effect when they visit the homes of carers too 🙂

    (just my 2 cents, hope you don't mind?)

  2. Excellent list!
    I always tell parents that how a centre 'feels to them' is one of the best indicators of whether it will suit them and their child.
    I always used the same checks when I decided if I would work at a centre too.

  3. miss carly says:

    That is a great list! Very true!

  4. In the states… there are so many regulations for childcare centers that is makes it hard to really find one that has a "family" feel… that was why it was so hard for me to go back to work. I appreciate bloggers like you empowering parents and helping them sort these things out.

  5. I'm like katef – often parents can't put their finger on what it is about a centre that is making them feel positively or negatively so I tell them to look at as many centres as they can and trust their instincts (helped along by lists like yours) and to ask loads of questions, no matter how silly or small you might think they are.

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