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Looking at daycare centres


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#1 MarleyS

Posted 10 January 2018 - 02:04 PM

Hi all,

I am looking at putting DS  into long day care one or two days a week (currently 4 months but not putting him in until around 1 year+, however most places around here are waitlisted so looking around now). Just after some opinions/tips on what to look for at the centre when I go for a tour.

Thanks in advance.

#2 Mollyksy

Posted 10 January 2018 - 02:11 PM

I look for happy engaged kids. Watch them interact with carers. I like to see kids artwork on the walls. Lots of different activities available to play with. I'm not too worried about untidy as long as it is relatively clean. Good admin staff is really helpful! Whats the turnover like? Look for a mix of new and some long term staff.

I got lucky with mine. After being there for a few weeks I could tell DS was bonding with them (he was 14 months). Even now, he knows all carers, not just those in his room.

Good luck. Trust your instincts. But don't be put off too much by mess. My daycare does one big clean and scrub a day. I guess on the other hand, is it too clean?!

#3 No Drama Please

Posted 10 January 2018 - 02:35 PM

I look at how they treat the other kids, if they seem happy.  If there's a bit of outdoor space that's a real bonus.  If they provide lunch/nappies or if you need to bring them, not having to do that every morning before work was a real plus for us.

But mostly if the staff seem happy and friendly towards the children or if there is one staff member frantically rushing around from place to place doing everything, while the other staff sit around on their mobiles while kids sit there crying with their noses running (true story!)

#4 Hini

Posted 10 January 2018 - 02:49 PM

I inspected 3 centres when looking for my children and you get a feeling pretty quickly in my experience. Lots of centres don't do tours unless by appointment but do try and turn up without one and see if they'll take you around. An unannounced inspection gives you a 'real' feel for the feel of the centre.

#5 Akadia

Posted 10 January 2018 - 03:27 PM

In addition to the above I also looked for:

- their play spaces - especially outdoors - are all the children together or are they separated by age? What equipment is available - does it look safe and age appropriate - how much supervision is given outdoors

- Even though it's long day care they should have a high level curriculum of activity. I.e. our day care have 'theme weeks' where children of all different ages explore the theme at their level (i.e. science week, nature, etc)

- are they a feeder or have children that attend that daycare go on to the school(s) that you have targeted for your child? This would indicate they understand the entry requirements and expected level of knowledge for that school. This is important if you plan to send your child until they go to school

- What are their hours of operation? If you work odd hours or need to start work early or leave late will they be open?

- Do they cater for food while your child is there? If so what does the menu look like?

#6 little lion

Posted 10 January 2018 - 03:34 PM

The more centres I visited, the more I got a clear idea of what we were looking for. I probably toured six?

Initially we wanted a centre that provided food but in the end that narrowed our options too much. Warm staff who asked questions and seemed genuine, lots of outdoor play spaces and recommendations from acquaintances were what led us to our place. Things that turned me off other centres was poor attitude from the director, outdoor spaces with no activities or nature for free play (only a big plastic playground on fake turf) and restrictive enrollment requirements (wanting two days a week attendance meant we must go Thursday Friday only at one centre). Good luck!

#7 sarahec

Posted 10 January 2018 - 03:41 PM

I look up the day care on https://www.mychild.gov.au/home

Unfortunately I had a bad experience with my first sons daycare. With my second son I investigated a lot more and got a good result

Now what I look for

How many bachelor qualified staff
What does the preschool readiness program involve/ why
What activities they have
How much time is free play how much is structed
How do they do play based approach
Outdoor area/ how much shade
If your child needs outside help ie speech OT will they help/ be flexible with person visiting
Do staff have experience in developmental issues
Do educators relate well with kids and vise versa
Do educators seem switched on engaged




#8 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:07 PM

I would also ask how do they communicate what happens during the day. My daycare uses an app called Storypark and upload photos and info every day fpr every class. Incidentally my kindy uses it too. I can see what DS has done and talk about it to hime and overseas grandparents ca n view too. My friend's kids go to another daycare and hardly knows what they do until year end. She's very impressed with the reporting I get.

#9 hoohoobump

Posted 10 January 2018 - 06:24 PM

The just turn up is a good indicator. Are they happy to chat, show you some things or do s it look disorganised/kids with unchanged bottoms/distressed etc etc. I managed to walk into one and be walk-in around for a good few minutes past several staff and into children’s spaces before anyone greeted me/asked me who I was.





#10 ButterflyNow

Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:19 PM

Good outdoor spaces are important, but don't forget the indoors. On days where it is stinking hot or big storms/rain, you don't want them cooped up in some tiny room.

Meals are a bonus but really useful if you end up having to choose.

Definitely check the safety of both indoors and outdoors area - we ended up leaving a centre due to a big safety concern (which I didn't think to look for during tours - I assumed all centres would have to be safe/meet some kind of standard).

Also - ask the centre how the deal with complaints/concerns. We are on our second centre, and the difference in how they respond to any concern I have is astounding - in our current centre they are much more responsive, willing to make changes if required.

The biggest thing that will help you child settle in there is the responsiveness of the carers, so look at how carers are responding to unsettled/upset children. Also look at how well the ratios are being met - I have seen one centre where while technically the ratios were being met, one staff member was trying to clean at the same time, limiting what they could do.

#11 Chelsea Rogers

Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:35 PM

We looks at 3 centres and I was unsure of what I was supposed to be looking for but after seeing all 3 I just fell in love with the one where the staff knew all the names of the families (and siblings who didn’t attend), had lots of colourful artwork around, outdoor area had plenty of shade and things to do and I just had a gut feeling about the warmth of the place. There were some older staff there, not just all teenagers which made me feel a title bit more comfortable..

Just go with your gut..

#12 *molly*

Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:50 PM

I’m interested to know how much importance people place on the National Quality Ratings (ACQA or something). Do you think they relate closely to the actual quality of the centre?

My DS is currently at a centre that is rated as ‘exceeding’ and while it’s good overall, I don’t love it. We’re considering a centre closer to home that’s rated as ‘working towards’ (which we will be touring tomorrow morning) and I feel somewhat guilty that we might be downgrading the quality of his care?

#13 sarahec

Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:56 PM

View Post*molly*, on 10 January 2018 - 08:50 PM, said:

I’m interested to know how much importance people place on the National Quality Ratings (ACQA or something). Do you think they relate closely to the actual quality of the centre?

My DS is currently at a centre that is rated as ‘exceeding’ and while it’s good overall, I don’t love it. We’re considering a centre closer to home that’s rated as ‘working towards’ (which we will be touring tomorrow morning) and I feel somewhat guilty that we might be downgrading the quality of his care?

I look closely at the quality and have had a great experience with an "Exceeding" in all areas daycare but I wouldn't write off a "working towards". The criteria changed and I think some places just need time to get their head around the changes. But if it said "working towards" in safety and relationships with kids I would probably give it a miss.

#14 *molly*

Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:07 PM

View Postsarahec, on 10 January 2018 - 08:56 PM, said:



I look closely at the quality and have had a great experience with an "Exceeding" in all areas daycare but I wouldn't write off a "working towards". The criteria changed and I think some places just need time to get their head around the changes. But if it said "working towards" in safety and relationships with kids I would probably give it a miss.

It is ‘working towards’ in those areas. But I have a friend who has had her two children there for a few years who likes the centre and says that they have made a big effort to implement improvements following the rating.

At our ‘exceeding’ centre, my DS will soon be moving into a toddlers room with a tiny concreted outdoor space and no other outdoor play areas. I am less than impressed. The centre is clean, well-run, the careers are lovely and they say all the right things but I just don’t love it...

#15 babybug15

Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:30 PM

I asked around for recommendations on centres from friends who worked in the sector and thought about what things were important to us as a family.

Ask about staff turnover, do staff have any time off the floor for planning, what they are doing to improve their rating, how feedback is communicated, how complaints are dealt with, how the day progresses and if it's flexible (eg when are meals, rest etc), what they provide (eg meals, nappies), what pedagogical practice they use and if they offer any form of orientation.

Also ask to see policies on things like inclusion, environmental awareness, social justice, outdoor play, "messy" play, excursions or other factors you find important.

See how the children are spoken to, what activities are on offer, what the environment (indoor & outdoor & rest areas) is like. Are distressed children being ignored? Are children left in soiled clothes/nappies?

One centre I looked at smelt of urine when you walked in (a year later I walked past and saw a staff member screaming at a child!!!) A mother's group friend looked at a centre and walked in off the street and took 5 minutes to find an adult. I know of centres next to construction sites which I avoided. So the less than ideal ones can stand out.

As for ratings I'd look at when they were rated and ask about how they are improving. When I looke at the centre we chose it was rated "working towards" a few years prior. They were able to tell me what they were doing to improve on that. It's since been rated "exceeding" and is now applying for "excellence".




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