Choices Posts

10 Things to consider when selecting a day nursery.
Jul 26, 2020

July 2020 by Jane Andrews, Area Manager

During the period of lockdown many day nurseries were forced to close as they could no longer remain viable. Many are now currently struggling to remain operational because of significant financial losses due to both government underfunding and the reduced demand for places amongst keyworker families during the lockdown period. A survey by The Early Years Alliance found that based on its results 25% of those settings surveyed will be forced to close. Moreover, a report from Ceeda suggests that occupancy rates in those day nurseries that are open are running at 48% compared to 77% for the same period last year.

How do the staff engage with each other and your child?

More parents will feel driven to use the services of a nanny or childcare agency under the assumption that these are regulated organisations.

The resultant impact of nursery closures with less childcare availability will put more pressure on parents to find nursery places. Campaigning group Regulation Matters (RM) has stated that parents will face ‘childcare chaos’ and have problems accessing childcare if urgent action is not taken by the government. They fear that more parents will feel driven to use the services of a nanny or childcare agency under the assumption that these are regulated organisations, which is not always the case. Without regulation they stress the potential safeguarding risks to children.  Now more than ever with the additional stress over the availability of places at nurseries it is important to choose the right setting for your child.

10 things to consider when choosing the right nursery:

  1. How was the initial enquiry and subsequent follow-up handled? How were you greeted by the staff and how did they engage with each other and your child?
  2. How did you find the nursery environment, was it clean, welcoming, and free of clutter? Does it appear to have reasonable resources on display, are they clean and age appropriate? Is there an outside area which is utilised daily?
  3. Are the nursery fees competitively priced and are they inclusive of all costs? Is there a charge for late pick-ups? Are all consumables, such as snacks, paints, paper and party food for special occasions included within the price?
  4. Is the nursery flexible, can hours be extended, or additional days/sessions added and how much notice is required?
  5. Will your child be well cared for and stimulated? Are the childcare staff qualified and does the nursery follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)? Are the staff all able to explain the curriculum and experiences the children enjoy at nursery?
  6. What is the policy regarding absence through sickness and family holidays? What is the policy regarding nursery closures for snow, power failures, pandemics, and incidents outside of nursery control? Does the nursery close for Christmas and bank holidays?
  7. Are the menus freely available to parents, do they cater for food allergies and dietary preferences? Are the meals home cooked and do the staff working in the kitchens have a Food Hygiene and Safety award?
  8. How much notice is required to terminate a nursery place?
  9. Have you read the nursery terms and conditions?
  10. Have you read the nursery Ofsted report?
Are the menus freely available and do they cater for food allergies and dietary preferences?

Ultimately, you must feel comfortable with what is being offered. At First Friends, we always recommend that parents, particularly new parents, view several nurseries within the area to get a feel for what they do and don’t like.

Are the staff all able to explain the curriculum?

We are a small nursery group where every child and family are known to all the staff. At First Friends we like to feel that we offer a family-feel to our nursery settings, a home from home for our children. Most of our families have been with us since their children were babies with siblings regularly joining us. 

Working within this sector is highly rewarding and it is a privilege and joy to work with so many delightful children and families. There are still excellent nursery settings around despite the current financial situation and it is important to choose the right nursery for your child. The important points are to trust your own  judgement and instincts and do not accept less for your child.The right nursery.

References:

Nursery World, Fears Parents Will Be Driven To Use Unregulated Childcare

A. Rawstrone   June 29 2020

Early Years Alliance, The Forgotten Sector: The Financial Impact of Coronavirus on Early Years Provision in England

Ceeda, Evidence In Action – Covid-19 Tracker 6 July to 12 July


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