Choosing child care is a daunting task. The few years your child spends with a child care service can have a profound effect on their development. Something so important can’t be left to chance, so we’ve put together a few points to consider before making your choice.

1. What type of child care?

There are many different child care options available and which one you opt for will depend on a number of factors. Private nannies tend to be a popular choice; however they are inclined to cost more than other options such day care or in-home care. There are benefits and drawbacks to each kind of child care option, so it is best to do your research and pick the one that suits you best in terms of family values, flexibility and, most importantly, your child and their individual needs.

2. Research

Researching your child care option is the most important step in the process. Your child will be in someone else’s care for a certain number of hours a day, so you want to make sure that this care is both competent and reliable if looking at day care or in-home care. Visit the premises and make sure that you are happy with it’s layout, resources, safety aspects and cleanliness. Whether you opt for day care or a personal nanny, introduce your child to the person that will be caring for them. It is important that they feel comfortable around them.

Find out if the staff at your chosen day care are properly qualified and also if they’re security checked. Find out who the centre uses as relief teachers and if these are qualified and checked in the same way as the day-to-day staff. Enquire about first aid on the premises and if the staff are fully trained in this area. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child’s safety and welfare.

3. Fees and benefits

Make sure you know exactly what’s included in the fees you are paying. Find out if you will be charged for public holidays or days where your child is out sick. Ask about discounts if more than one family member attends the care service. Enquire if food is included in the price or if this incurs additional charges.

4. What is the child to staff ratio?

Children thrive on individual attention – the higher the number of teachers or carers, the easier it will be for your child to receive his or her share. Consider too, how many children there are as many children feel overwhelmed in large groups.

5. Accreditation

There are different associations, accreditations and licenses that child care centres in New Zealand can have or be associated with. Find out if the centre you choose has the appropriate license for the amount of children attending and see if it is accredited or associated with bodies such as the NZ Childcare Association. This will mean that it has to comply with and meet certain standards. There are also a number of centres that are government funded meaning there could be extra perks or benefits for your child at no extra cost to you.

6. How much involvement will you have?

Although your child will be cared for by someone else during the hours you need, it is still important that you have as much involvement as possible. Find out whether or not you can drop in at any time and if you will be kept informed of your child’s participation and progress.

Finding child care that meets the unique needs of your child and provides a safe and stimulating environment is key to helping them reach and explore the full potential of their early years.

Learn more about choosing child care in this video.

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