Choosing child care – what age to start, which place to choose, how many days – was never an easy process for me.
First I had to learn all about family day care, long day care centres, kindy programs, and the differences between them.
Then there was visiting the various programs and trying to figure out which would suit our family (and our individual child) the best…
I felt very confused, alone and at a loss as to where to find reliable information.
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My two older sons have had very different experiences with child care. We started them at different ages and at different child care providers. I made my decisions mostly based on my own visits to the child care centres, word of mouth by people I met and Google searches… and I’m glad that I can’t remember how many nights I stayed up fretting over the decisions. Goodness was it stressful!
Since we have recently moved to a new town and I will be looking into child care providers for my daughter in the coming months, I was very excited to hear about a new resource called Starting Blocks that helps take the stress out of this momentous decision by providing valuable information on the process as well as specific child care providers.
How to Choose a Child Care Provider
Starting Blocks is a free government website created in 2015 by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. Based on research that showed many parents were unsure about how to choose the best child care for their family and child, (which I can definitely relate to myself!), the Starting Blocks website was developed to provide simple child care information to help parents make informed decisions for their families.
Starting Blocks lists child care centre’s ratings across the 7 areas of the National Quality Standard (read more about what the ratings are all about here). The website is incredibly easy to navigate and is a great place to start when you are looking into child care for the first time. The more you can learn about the child care options available to you, the less stressful the whole process will be.
To find information on the providers nearby, you can enter a postcode to view rated services in your area. Or you can use the search function to look up a specific provider you know about.
You may also like to check out all the resource pages on the Starting Blocks site that provide information on choosing a service, preparing to start, developmental milestones and much more.
For example, here are some key questions that parents should ask providers which are listed on the “Choosing a Service” page:
- What hours do you operate?
- What times can I drop off and pick up my child?
- Do you close throughout the year and how long for e.g. Christmas or Easter time
- Will I be able to visit my child or call them at any time?
- Will I be charged fees for public holidays or when my child is not there?
- Do you provide things like nappies and meals, or do I need to bring them from home?
You can find the rest of the suggested questions on this page. I remember writing down similar questions myself when I was looking into child care providers, so this list would have been super handy! I will definitely be printing it out when going to providers in the future.
It is simple to explore the wealth of information available on Starting Blocks so I really do hope you take a look and that it helps if you are currently looking into child care options for your family! Please feel free to forward this article to friends if you have any who would benefit from using this amazing resource as well.
All About Me Free Printable
I think part of the reason I felt so anxious with my children starting child care was because I knew there would be a steep learning curve as my child got to know their new carers and vice versa.
One of the kindy programs my second son attended had a wonderful sheet they sent home before each new child began attending the service. It was called “Getting to Know You” and they asked parents and children to fill it in together. The teachers put up all the sheets on the wall which was a great way for the kids, teachers and parents to get to know all the children in the class a bit better.
I have created my own version of this sheet because it was a great conversation starter and really helped us feel that our child was going into a new situation with a bit more preparation. You are welcome to use it when you send your child to a new child care provider.
Download the sheet by clicking here.
I hope you enjoy using Starting Blocks and that choosing a child care provider is easier for you than it was for me the first two times around! I’m already feeling more equipped to make a decision about a provider for my daughter which is a huge relief.
How did you go about choosing a child care provider if you have done so before? What advice would you give to parents making this decision for the first time?
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Choosing child care can be so difficult… there is always so much riding on the decision isn’t there! Anything that makes it easier is a plus.
Great tips! It can be hard to know what to look for and it’s such a big decision.
This is such a timely post. It feels like such a big decision and this type of information is useful.
It’s so great to know that there are certain organizations that would create such a wonderful and helpful website for parents with children who are starting school. I hope that countries will do the same and provide a friendly website as well. Since most parents, especially new ones like me, are already pressured and “freaking out” in terms of when they should start their kids with child care, what is the best child care service for their kids and so many other questions, would definitely feel more comfortable and prepared knowing that they have this type of website to guide them.