Understanding what to look for in a Daycare

Understanding what to look for in a Daycare:

Non-profit & Profit Centres

Licensed & Non-Licensed providers


Since launching My Little Lamb, the number one question that I have received from mothers in my private messages are usually daycare related and where they should send their children for care when they go back to work. I’m always more then happy to have separate conversations about pretty much anything at all times, including giving any advice or knowledge that I can, being a daycare educator, but I was realizing that it would be beneficial to have a post and compiling what I think are the most important things to think about when choosing the right fit childcare for your family as well as what information you should have before making that important decision.

If you’ve read my About Me post you know that I have worked as a nanny, aupair, and over the last 10 years as an educator at the Glebe Parents Daycare. Glebe Parents Daycare is a licensed non-profit center in the Ottawa downtown area. 


So, here’s the thing, I never really knew until being asked these questions from parents about where I would recommend their child go to daycare, that most of the parents had no idea what the differences between a non-profit and profit childcare centers or licensed and non-licensed center where.
I think this is probably in my opinion the best place to start. 

A Non-profit center:
Non-profit centers, in provinces and territories in Canada, are eligible for a majority of the funding from the government to be allocated to child care services within their center. This funding might include, capital funding, start-up funding, a per child fee grant, staff salary grants and parent subsidies. In order to receive this funding from the government a center must be run by a board of directors, composed of parents, community members as well as staff. This means that all decisions that are made about where the funding is allocated, the policies and procedures of the daycare and many other decisions are made from different perspectives encompassing the one goal, to offer quality childcare for the children attending. Non-profit centers for the most part also pay their staff a higher livable wage, make sure they have proper benefit packages and a lot of the centers are unionized. For me as a staff its super important because the level of quality care that is provided in an environment that’s paying more then minimum wage and has better benefits you will see as a parent, a lower turn over of staffing. I can say that I’ve been at my center for ten years, and plan on retiring there, as well as most of the senior staff have been working at our center more then 30 years. 

For profit center: 
Private, or profit centers, on the other hand, rely on parent fees to operate. While this in no way determines the care the private operator provides, it does severely limit the program in that in order to remain competitive it must rely on cost reducing measures to maintain even the basics like art supplies, learning materials, repair bills and staff salaries. Most profit centers the decisions are made by a sole owner or investors and in some cases the decisions made are not entirely to benefit the children in the programs but its to maintain the bottom line and remain out of the black. 

A Licensed Childcare center:
Explaining all that a childcare center must abide by as well meet the standards of the Ministry of Education is a lot of information! They are set rules and regulations that must be met at all times, in order for the center to maintain their license. 
I truly recommend to all parents trying to decide between a licensed and non-licensed center to read the checklist of standards that have to be met by a licensed center in Ontario. If you feel that these would be important for you as a parent to have the ministry of education making sure that at least once a year on a un scheduled visit that your child’s providers are meeting these standards then a licensed center or home daycare is the better option for you and your family.

https://www.earlyyears.edu.gov.on.ca/EYPortal/en/ChildCareLicensing/CCEYALicensingStandards/index.htmWhen you scroll down you are able to click on the headings to see all of the standards that need to be met in a licensed center for those specific categories….. examples from the site look like this :

Ratios of Employees to Children and Group Size
7.Age categories
8.Ratios and maximum group sizes, child care centre
8.1Licensed family age groups
9.Home child care group sizes
10.Resource teacher
11.Supervision by adult at all times
11.1Supervision of volunteers and students
Building, Equipment and Playground — Child Care Centres
12.Child care centres in schools
13.Compliance with health and safety standards, Building Code, Fire Code, etc.
14.Approval by director of plans re child care centre
15.Designated spaces
16.Play activity space
17.Play activity rooms
18.Resource area
19.Play materials, equipment and furnishings
(these are just some of the examples from the governments website, again as a parent please do your homework and read up on what is required from licensed centers)
All of the information/scoring from these yearly licensed inspections as well as the license in itself, must be displayed in the center for the parents to see. 
Licensed home daycare centres follow the same regulations and best practices when it comes to safety. A home-based provider can operate as a licensed home daycare contracted by a home child care agency that is licensed by the Ministry. * These providers aren’t required to have the Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) designation, but they are required to have first aid certification and undergo a criminal record check. (CRC)

Un-licensed home daycare:
An unlicensed home daycare is not required to follow a program plan, a menu plan, nor are they required to post a fire escape plan or to fill out a daily safety log. However, this does not necessarily mean that the provider doesn’t voluntarily do these things. When considering an unlicensed home daycare, it falls to the parent(s) to inquire about the provider’s credentials, certifications and what standards the provider maintains as these things aren’t mandated. That said, many unlicensed home daycare centres provide a safe and nurturing environment for children, with many of the providers having young kids of their own. 
When considering home-based child care, it’s up to parents to do their due diligence, ask the right questions and check references.

For me as a staff at a licensed center I would recommend if you don’t go with a daycare center but a home provider instead because it’s a better fit for your family I would recommend choosing a licensed home daycare because I know how much time and effort goes into making sure that at all times a child’s safety and wellbeing is being met and standards of the ministry are ones that I believe should be met at all times when caring and educating children.

After you and partner way the pros and cons of all of these options and find out which centers look like the best fit I want to give you some questions that I feel as a parent you need to ask a coordinator on a tour of the daycare or a home care provider in an interview.

That blog will be next Monday November 26th,2018, stay tuned because I’ve just left you a lot to not only think about but a lot to research in our city! 
If you have any questions, concerns or even wanting to know my recommendations of some of the centers in the city let me know as well!

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