Choosing Childcare
Sending your little ones to child care for the first time is an emotional experience. And that does not include the complicated decision-making process of choosing a centre that suits your family's needs.

At the very heart of your decision should be the way in which carers and staff interact with the children and whether the atmosphere is warm, friendly and welcoming.

By Denise Taylor, CEO, National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC)


The role of parents and families

Parents and families are the first teachers and the main influence in a child's life and therefore parents' ideas and suggestions are essential to the efforts of child care services to continuously improve the quality of care they provide.

Staff, carers and parents need to decide together what is important for children and how this will be achieved.

In a quality environment, parents, carers and staff share information about the children. Parents tell carers and staff about the child's interests, needs, likes and dislikes. In turn, carers and staff have much to share with parents about the child's day to day activities - what interests they are exploring; any upsets that occur; eating, sleeping, toileting and nappy changes; how they are relating to other children; and what they have learned. This ensures that parents remain connected with every part of their child's life.

It is also important that parents can speak freely with their child's carers or service staff about such issues as the service's policies on discipline, hygiene, excursions, vaccination, sun protection and safety.

Some helpful things to consider are:

  • Am I welcome to visit my child at any time?
  • Are parents encouraged to participate in activities?
  • Is information shared between the staff, carers and families?
  • Is information readily available about the child care service's policies?
  • Are families informed about proposed changes to policies?
  • Is there a planned program of day to day activities for my child?
  • Are individual learning goals set for each child?
  • Can my child choose activities of interest?
  • Are meal times pleasant?
  • Does toileting, nappy changing and rest time meet my child's individual needs?
  • Are there activities that foster my child's creativity?
  • Are the children encouraged to explore and take on new challenges?
  • Is the equipment and are the play spaces safe for children?
  • Are my child's individual needs being met?
  • Are there clear procedures for raising any concerns I may have?

NCAC provides information about quality child care and the names of registered and accredited services through an easy search facility on its web site: or by calling 1300 136 554 or (02) 8260 1900

Taken from Balance - A guide for busy mothers managing work & family, a book by motherInc. and Nurofen for Children featuring contributions from doctors, pyschologists, academics, authors and business executives - most of whom are busy mothers themselves.