Choosing the right care for your child

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Choosing a childcare provider can be a bit of a challenge for parents, but a new guide produced by the Daycare Trust can hopefully help them look at the right things and ultimately make the correct choice for them.

The Daycare Trust’s guide, How to Find High Quality Childcare, advises parents to avoid relying on Ofsted reports alone when choosing between childcare providers.

The checklist includes first impressions, costs, staff ratios and what happens in an emergency and recommends that parents should always visit different nurseries or childminders before making a decision.

It adds: “Recommendations from other parents can be helpful, but it is important to remember that everyone is different and what suits their child will not necessarily suit yours”.

So what do parents in our area look for when it comes to childcare?

Claire Gill, from Kettering, said: “As a childminder I see many points to look for.

“Firstly and most importantly choose someone with whom you get on with and can approach to talk about anything regarding your child. Working in partnership with parents is vital in ensuring the wellbeing and development of a child.

“Check that the environment is safe and welcoming and see how the staff relate to the children. Ask lots of questions and see lots of providers to gauge what’s available and what will suit you best.

“Keep an open mind, there are various forms of childcare available to you.

“Go on word of mouth that usually speaks volumes. find out about their policies and procedures and if they will be able to follow a routine you are happy with.”

Christine Tebbutt, from Kettering, said: “Ofsted reports are never accurate as the schools know weeks when the visit will take place. Staff can be briefed on what they will be looking for and get the place to look up to standard beforehand. Surprise inspections would give a much better idea of what a school or childcare provider is really like.”

Kerry Jones, from Kettering, said: “I am a childminder, and have also looked for childcare for my children in previous years. “I do go a lot on gut instinct and first impressions.

“I don’t go into a fellow minders house and expect it to be tidy and immaculate, I want to see toys about, children playing squabbling, doing ‘normal’ day to day things, not all set out as though you are going by a script.

“Ofsted reports offer a good guide, but definitely shouldn’t just rely on those. If possible ask other parents whether their children are happy there.”

Sarah Hodges, also from Kettering, said: “Make sure the children aren’t eating snacks when you look around as that’s always the least stressful time.

“See how friendly the staff are, look at how the nursery is run and look at the book of rules and all their policies.”