Choosing Childcare: 30 Things You Should Be Asking

Often, parents aren’t quite sure of the questions they should be asking of their child care providers meaning they might not be getting the whole picture when it comes to who is looking after their children. We've put together a guide of 30 questions you should be asking when choosing a childcare provider along with our answers to each of the questions below.

Children Learning at Robina childcare

How long have the staff been in education, and how long have they been at this particular centre?

When we hire our educators we want to make sure our staff that are going to be with us for a long time. We look at how long they have been in the industry, what their experience is with children and what their long term goals are.

 

What’s the average age of the educators who will be looking after my child?

The average age of our educators is 40 years.

 

What’s the ratio of educators to children, per age group? Is this an under-roof-ratio or in-room ratio?

We adhere to the following ratios of educator to children:

15mths to 2 years = 1 educator: 4 children

2 years to 3years = 1 educator: 5 children

3 years + = 1 educator: 11 children

These are in room ratios. An under-roof ratio is only used after careful consideration of the needs of the children, families and staff. For example, if a child is exceeding expected developmental milestones and it’s in the child’s best interests for them to be in an older class, we may move that child into that class before their birthday to ensure we are providing sufficient stimulation. This is rare and we are cautious about how and when this is used.

Read more here.

 

What are the educator’s qualifications? Are educators required to undergo ongoing training? Where did they earn their qualification and what is the standard of this institution?

We value our educators and understand the integral role they play in your child's development and well being. Our staff hold Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) approved qualifications, Blue cards, First Aid and CPR, Anaphylaxis and Asthma training and adhere to Education and Services National Law and Education and Care Services National Regulations

Our educators have a deep understanding of the ever changing learning landscape and experience over a number of fields. When we employ educators we look for experience in a range of areas, for example, some of our educators have a background in nursing or children’s counselling and behaviour management. We ensure they have their qualifications from reputable training organisations and universities so that we know your child is getting the best care.

Who'll be looking after my child?

What will my child be eating?

Are meals included in the daily price? 

Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are included at Robina First.

 

Who is making the meals? Does the centre have in-house staff or is the food being cooked in an off-site kitchen?

We work with qualified chefs who consult with nutritionists, dieticians and national advisory groups to ensure the highest nutritional standards. Meals are made offsite in HACCP certified kitchen facilities that comply with the FSANZ Australian Food Standards Code and regularly undergo rigorous health and hygiene inspections by state regulatory bodies. They are also guided by Australian Food Microbiology, who they consult and advise on correct food handling techniques.

Food cooked off-site is often more highly regulated and has higher standards for things like dietary requirements and allergies.

 

What sort of meals are provided?

Our home style meals are nutritious with a variety of multicultural influences and include a large selection of fresh fruit, steamed vegetables and hot lunches. Our six-week rotational menu contains food from the five food groups and are designed to exceed the recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

 

What happens if my child has an allergy? What is the process to minimise the risk and what happens if my child does experience a reaction?

Our menu items are nut, egg and pork free. Our educators are trained to recognise and respond to the signs and symptoms of an allergic reactions and have specialised training in Asthma and Anaphylaxis. Tailor made menus are created for children with individual allergies and intolerances based on information provided by families. A risk minimisation plan is created in consultation with families and children’s health professionals.

 

Are veggies cooked (hidden) in the foods?

Our meals are supplemented by a large selection of fresh fruit and raw vegetable crudités to serve with morning and afternoon tea, as well as fresh, steamed vegetables for lunch. Fruit and vegetables are also cooked (hidden) into the foods to maximise the nutritional value of our meals, and increase the likelihood that they'll be eaten!

 

Are meals hot or cold?

Children are served hot lunches and have a variety of hot and cold for morning and afternoon tea.

 

Does the centre have a city council food rating and what is their rating?

Robina First Early Learning Centre has a Gold Coast City Council 5 Star rating. City councils will conduct regular inspections on food safety standards and will provide a rating that should be displayed. If there’s no rating, parents should be asking why.

 

If my child doesn’t eat a meal, what happens? Are they offered an alternative?

If your child doesn’t eat they will be offered an alternative. This is usually cheese or vegemite on toast (they are more likely to eat toast that they have chosen than a sandwich…but if they choose the sandwich even better!). We will also record that your child was offered an alternative or that they haven’t eaten so that you are aware of what they have or have not eaten.

What happens if my child is sick?

If my child is sick, what is the centre’s policy for administering medication?

Before giving your child any medication we will confirm that we have your permission to administer medication. Medications are administered by our educators only when necessary and essential to a child’s wellbeing. Age appropriate paracetamol is stored at the centre in case of emergency. An initial dose only of paracetamol may be administered by our educators in cases where a child’s temperature exceeds normal limits. Our educators will contact you (or your emergency contacts) before paracetamol is administered. If you or your nominated authorised persons cannot be contacted our educators will contact a medical practitioner, hospital or ambulance service for consent.

If your child is unwell, your centre should have a plan for how they’ll let you know and what you need to do. Before giving your child any medication, your centre should contact you for confirmation, to prevent double dosing with common medications like Panadol or your centre giving your child something you don’t want them to have.

 

Does the centre require pharmacy label on all medications, including things like nappy cream?

Whenever possible, medication should preferably be administered by a parent at home, however when medication, either prescribed or non-prescribed is required to be administered at the centre it must be accompanied by a doctors letter or a pharmacist label with instructions on the origin container

This is to prevent cross-contamination or the centre using a medication on your child that you’re not comfortable with.

 

Does your centre ask for a medical certificate to ensure kids are well before returning to day care? 

Yes.

 

If children are displaying contagious symptoms, how long are they required to stay home before returning to care?

We follow the minimum exclusion periods recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council. We encourage parents to think of this not only from the perspective of how long you’ll have to arrange alternative care if your child is sick, but how well the centre is working to prevent illness spreading. At Robina First, we follow exclusion periods recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council before returning to care.

Centre Standards

What’s the National Quality Score of the childcare centre?

Robina First is proud to be rated as Exceeding the National Quality Standard.

 

How will my child be encouraged to learn and play? What programs does the centre offer?

While most centres will offer the National Early Years Learning Framework: Being, Belonging, Becoming, the way this is offered can differ dramatically. The best way to deliver this program is with a balance between child led and teacher led.

Child led: open ended that doesn’t have a prescribed outcome, designed to stimulate ideas, initiative and imagination - for example at Robina First we use small world play.

Teacher led: teacher supported, designed to teach a specific skill - for example at Robina First we would use teacher led when we play learning games/reading.

Our programs are designed, implemented and evaluated by our highly qualified educators and provide a balance of child led and teacher led experiences. We draw on a combination of contemporary educational theories to ensure that we are able to  deliver inspired and holistic education. You will see inspiration from Waldorf (Steiner), Montessori, the Abecedarian Approach (3a) and Reggio Emilia, as well as play based, project and emergent perspectives all skilfully interwoven within our curriculum.  Through blending these philosophical beliefs we are able to implement flexible child co-constructed programs rooted in the principles and practices outlined in the Early Years Learning Framework.

 

Does the centre have screen time restrictions?

We follow the World Health Organisation recommendation and provide no screen time to children under 2 years old. Children aged two and above are restricted to less than an hour a day. We ensure that screen time involves quality digital media and is balanced with other activities.

 

How long do children spend outside each day? Are there any fitness programs at the centre? 

We aim to provide for 4-6 hours outside each day. This is our target however this is not always practical so we do a little more in winter and a little less in summer. We also offer yoga, dance, tennis and soccer.

 

What other programs are on offer?

We run QLD Government Approved Kindergarten programs and the ELLA (Early Learning Languages Australia) Program in Mandarin. We also have seasonal programs throughout the year such as Jamie Oliver’s Learn Your Fruit and Veg and Henny Penny Hatchling programs.

 

Will children be offered the chance to learn languages?

We offer Mandarin and French.

 

What’s the childcare’s policy on behaviour management? Does this align with your personal beliefs on behaviour management?

Our behaviour management policy consists of a number of different strategies including: Prevention (providing classrooms tailored to the development level of children prevents frustration, interruption and hazards), Modelling (modelling appropriate behaviours and communications helps children to learn responsibility for their actions), Positive redirection (redirecting unacceptable behaviour to an acceptable alternative), Limit setting (clear simple rules that vary according to the developmental level of the child), Problem solving (asking questions to encourage problem solving which reveal natural and logical consequences), Reflective behaviour (providing comfort and privacy for children experiencing physical or emotional outbursts) and Thinking time (This strategy is used when a child is not yet capable of self control or redirection and needs time to settle down).

A few more things…

Does the centre allow you to do a playdate so you can experience a day in the life at the centre?

We encourage families to spend the morning with us (usually from 9am to 11am) so that children and their families can familiarise themselves with our facilities, educators and classrooms. This assists in developing a relationship with children before they start their first day with us and is a gentler approach to transitioning into childcare

 

Is there a charge for playdates?

Play dates are free once we have received your enrolment form.

 

What are the centre policies on vaccination?

Parents are asked to ensure that all recommended immunisations are current. Each time their child is immunised, parents are required to provide the updated record. Whist our centre doesn’t exclude children who aren’t immunised, we recommend that children are immunised in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Childhood Vaccination Schedule.

 

How secure is the centre?

  • What are the policies on internet access and social media? We don’t post pictures of children’s faces on social media or the internet (including programs and apps such as Story Park and Explore). This is because  this is because once images are published online it is difficult to control where they may be used or shared, which may not be in the best interests of the child.
  • Is the centre close to busy roads or waterways? No
  • Are visitors required to sign in? Yes, every visitor is logged in our visitor book with an in and out time.
  • What sort of fencing does the centre have? We have COLORBOND® steel fencing around the perimeter of our playground. This fencing is secure and allows for privacy meaning those outside the centre are unable to see into the centre throughout the day. Our external doors have a keypad system in which parents can enter a code to gain access. Outside these doors we have pool fencing as an extra precautionary measure.
  • What are the drop-off policies? Will you need to provide written permission for anyone other than you to pick up your child? We ask for a list of your authorised contacts and require photo I.D for each of these contacts, including parents. Only these people will be allowed to collect your child from Robina First. Children are signed ‘in’ and ‘out’ each day by their parents/authorised contacts via a digital kiosk which records and timestamps who has had access to your child.

 

What is the centre’s sun policy?

We provide hats and sun cream at Robina First. Before going outside our staff check that clothing will protect them against the cold and sun including hats. SPF 30 sunscreen is applied 20 minutes before children go outdoors and is reapplied every 2 hours.  During the months of October through to March, due to the UV levels, we spend minimal time outside between 11am and 3pm.

 

Does the centre provide nappies? No, we ask parents to provide their own nappies to ensure their preferred brad is used.

 

What happens if you’re late to pick up your child? Two educators are required to be on premises with your child. Attempts will be made to contact you or your authorised persons. An initial fee of $15 will be charged, then $15 for every 15 minute interval.

 

Does the Centre’s kindy program have a relationship with the school you intend to send your child to?

We have relationships with our local private and public schools. Each year, we invite Prep teachers from our local schools to observe children here in our classrooms so that they can get to know our children prior to going to school.

 

Does the centre offer school holiday vacation care?

We offer this program the families currently enrolled at our centre

You want the best for your little ones and finding the perfect childcare centre for your children isn’t always easy. Hopefully these conversation starters will help you to understand more about child care and where your child will fit in best.

 

To arrange a visit to Robina First to learn more about our best-practice programs, email office@robinafirst.com.au or phone 55931221.