What does a quality family day care service look like?
What is the atmosphere? What do you observe about the attitudes of the adults in the family day care centre? Look for:
- a safe and comfortable environment
- fun and challenging activities.
Observing the children being cared for can help you get a feel for the service. Ask yourself:
- Do the children look happy and content?
- Do they interact well with each other and the staff?
- Do they show a willingness to participate in group activities?
The family day care space
Even if your child is in care for a couple of hours, they need a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces to interest and challenge them. When looking at the play space your child or children might be using, check that:
- the indoor and outdoor areas and equipment are clean and well-maintained
- your child will have a choice of activities that encourage them to try new things and still be safe
- equipment can be moved and changed to give your child variety in their day
- there is space for your child to talk and play with other children, space for running and being noisy, as well as spaces for quiet play
- pictures and photos are displayed at your child’s eye level.
Educator relationships with children
When educators are with children, observe whether they:
- relate to children at their eye level
- use each child’s name, ask questions and respond to each child warmly and positively
- encourage children to ask questions, make choices and solve their own problems
- help children to learn about themselves, other people and the world around them
- provide opportunities for children to participate in activities where they explore everyday life (e.g. help to prepare meals or tidy up)
- allow children to make decisions about what they would like to do
- ensure regular times for children’s meals, rest and relaxation are available
- use a positive approach to guide children’s behaviour.
The educators’ training, attitudes and manner are important considerations in your choice of service. You read about educator-to-child ratios in Queensland services.
When you talk with educators, consider whether they:
- make you feel welcome and answer your questions willingly
- try to find out how best to care for your child
- seem keen to help you get to know them and the activities and experiences offered
- discuss ways you can be involved in the service and help plan your child’s day.
The service must also display:
- a notice detailing the maximum number of children and age range for the group
- the number of educators and their work hours for each day, including rest periods
- each educator’s name, qualification and position.
The educational program
- the activities and experiences offered to children
- goals for developing knowledge and skills
- the service’s policy on learning and child development, and how it will be achieved
- how you will be kept informed about your child’s progress and day to day activities
- how your child’s learning will be documented
- the Early Years Learning Framework—which guides children’s learning from birth to 5 years and through transition to school.
Quality standards and assessments
National standards apply to most long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, pre-Prep and kindergarten services. These standards include a quality rating system that assesses the quality of services and helps you decide which one to choose. You can find services and their quality ratings here.
I found the family day care I want, now what?
If you arrange education and care for your child well in advance of needing it, you will have the best chance of getting a place. For many parents and carers, once you have visited one or two educators and selected a service where you wish to enrol, there may be a waiting list.
Sometimes, once you have let your service know you wish to enrol your child or children, they will ask you to wait for them to let you know when a place is available. Your service will let you know when it’s time to enrol.
Starting family day care
Once your child or children are enrolled, your Enhance Family Day Care educator will conduct an informal orientation process for new parents and children. The settling in phase is a critical time for your child and the educator. If you are able to, spend some time with your child while he or she is adjusting to the new environment at family day care. Observe your child interacting with her or his new companions.
Watch the interaction between your child and the educator. Does the educator relate warmly to your child? Does she/he listen and respond to what your child says? How is your child relating to the educator? Does your child turn to the educator for comfort and support, and to ask questions?
Allow time to chat with the educator when you collect your child. Families are able to access the care environment at any time their child is in care. Discuss any special needs your child may have, such as diabetes, epilepsy, asthma or a food allergy, and how you manage them. Services will require a written health action plan to assist in the management of any adverse health events.
Make sure the educator has your contact numbers at all times, plus details of another person who can be easily contacted if there is a problem or urgent enquiry and you can’t be reached.