Have you reached that period in your child’s life where it’s time to send them off to child-care? For most parents this can be a significant and emotional time, but it can be made easier knowing they’re going to a safe and child-friendly environment.
There are many factors which contribute to that feeling of safety and comfort, such as the staff ratio, philosophy, flexibility and reputation. However, the level of property and facility maintenance should also be a major influence on your final decision.
When choosing the perfect child-care centre, always ask for a tour of their facilities and whether they have a scheduled maintenance program in place.
It can be a lot to take in, so we’ve provided a roadmap of all the areas you should question and evaluate before handing over your little ones.
Before you even step into the building, how do you feel about the centre? Does it project an image of safety and comfort? Some initial safety precautions to look out for include clear signage, bold lines in the car park, fencing and accessibility.
Beyond the safety, does the building exterior look inviting? If the property appears rundown, then this could be your first red flag.
Do all the internal environments appear safe and structurally sound? Are the spaces big enough to cater for the number of children allowed under their care?
Also see if you can notice whether the centre has undergone any renovations and upgrades to better facilitate the needs of the children in recent years. Most child care centres will have all the basic requirements, but it’s the centres that are proactive in their repairs, upgrades and improvements that you should take note of.
Major zones to evaluate include the play, kitchen and bathroom areas, which could present serious health and safety hazards for your children if not maintained properly. In the bathroom, identify whether they have appropriate and functioning hygiene practices in place. This can be as simple as having working soap dispensers. In the kitchen, watch out for build-ups of food, faulty appliances and equipment hazards like exposed wires or cords. The quality of their water purifying systems is also key.
It’s also worth asking questions about the type of surfaces found in the child care. For example, if carpets are present, how often are they cleaned?
Beyond the actual physical features, consider the ventilation of the space – are there functioning heating and air conditioning systems in place?
The maintenance of the outdoor environment is key for your child’s safety. A poorly kept outdoor area can create major physical safety threats for children, who are often adventurous and curious in their play.
Fencing is critical for your child’s safety, so you want to ensure that their fencing or walls are sturdy, equipped with functioning locks and built so that a child can’t climb over or dig underneath. This is particularly important if there is a pool nearby, or if there are a range of ages across separate play areas.
Next, evaluate the condition of the playground equipment. Is anything broken? Are there safety precautions in place, such as guardrails or adequate protection around chains on swings? Find out if there any hardware issues such as protruding nails and hooks, loose bolts or sharp edges that could cut your child. For wooden structures, is there evidence of rotting wood or a large risk of your child getting splinters?
From here, you should turn your attention to the garden. Overgrown foliage could attract unwanted pests or animals. Weeds and unknown poisonous plants could also begin to grow and pose a threat.
Now that you’ve toured the child care centre, reflect on its overall appeal. Does it appear to be clean, refreshing and hygienic? Or are the facilities dirty and old? It could be as simple as looking at whether there are any paint peelings, marks on the walls, cracks in the roof or dust accumulated on various surfaces.
While all child care centres are subject to wear and tear, a regularly maintained and tidy building says a lot for the professionalism, values and care of the owners. If they care for the building, they’ll care for your kids.
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If you run a child care centre, I do maintenance can quickly bring you up to top standard and keep you there. Contact us to discuss your needs.