There are many reasons why a parent chooses to put their precious child into a quality child care centre. Whatever the reason is, there are some essential factors you should take into account when you are looking at your possible options.
1. Certification – the first thing you should be ensuring is that the center has up to date certification. Do not be embarrassed to ask the latest inspection report which has been undertaken by the relevant agencies. This will put your mind at rest that all the necessary checks and balances have been complied with.
2. Child ratio – having too few staff can put your children at risk, but having too many staff will mean higher fees.
3. Help with Childcare Costs – check to see that the staff have qualifications which are relevant to the area they are working with. For example, it would be beneficial for staff working with the babies to have some nursing experience, whereas for the older children teacher training would be more helpful.
4. Environment – is the environment appropriate for the age group who are using it?
5. Child development and learning – there are many areas of development which need to be taken care of in a child care center. These include physical, intellectual, emotional, social and creative developments. One example would be, does the center get the children to participate in game and activities which help to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
6. Nutrition – a quality child care center will ensure that the children are provided with nutritious snacks and meals at appropriate times throughout the day.
7. Child safety – this obviously plays a very big part when choosing your child care center. Is the center hygienically up to standard? Are there safety gates where required? Is the playground equipment well maintained and supervised? What are the procedures in place in case of a medical emergency? Once again, do not be afraid to ask questions of the staff and take a look at the relevant documentation.
8. Continuity -a more recent development is for quality child care to be provided for your children right from baby through to after school care. Many centers these days will provide different centers all on the same property, e.g. a baby center, an under two center, a preschool center and then another center which provides care for school age children, both before and after school. This system has many advantages. For parents, they know that their child care requirements are taken care of for many years to come. The children can move seamlessly from one center to the next, already being familiar with the staff in their new environment. This is a very family oriented approach and one which parents will love and find very convenient.
9. Is your involvement encouraged? A quality child care center will make the parents feel involved in their child’s day care experience by having regular events to which parents are invited, and making them feel welcome at any time.
10. Observe – one of the best things you can do is just to spend time at the child care center and observe. Look at how the staff interact with the children when they don’t think they are being watched. Look to see the children are happy.
This article only gives a brief overview on essential factors to be aware of when selecting a quality child care center but we hope it gives you a good starting point.
by Erin Brough
Many children get atopic eczema nowadays. If your child has eczema, then you are likely to be worried over his condition especially if it affects his appearance. There is good news, though, because many times, children will outgrow this condition before they become teenagers.
In the meantime, it is important that you find ways to deal with the child eczema on a day-to-day basis. You may also wish to reduce the dependence of your child on steroids for his condition as prolonged use of drugs can produce other side effects. Children usually find their itchy symptoms hard to live with and it is up do you, as a parent, to help.
You can first detect child eczema by observing him if he finds that he is unable to stop scratching or rubbing an area of skin. Even though you ask him to stop scratching, he will not be able to control himself. This rubbing and scratching makes the affected area red, swollen, sore, and warm to the touch. It also makes the eczema symptoms worse, because it makes the skin become even drier and itchier, which causes your child to scratch even harder.
This inflammation and itchiness for child eczema causes damage to the outer layer of skin, also called the epidermis. When the outer layer of skin is damaged, it can become more vulnerable to infections and it also becomes super-sensitive to allergens and irritants that are in the environment. Then the cycle continues.
The easiest and simplest way for child eczema care is to keep his skin moisturized. Warm to lukewarm baths are great for your child, but do not keep your child in the bath for longer than five minutes. Use a mild soap or cleanser like Dove, Neutrogena, or Cetaphil. After your child has finished their bath, be sure that you pat them dry, rather than rub, because rubbing can irritate the skin further. Apply a moisturizer to your child’s body while it is still damp and steer clear of any soap, moisturizer, or cleaner that contains alcohol or added scent.
Children can get stressed just like adults, so it is important to remember that stress can set off an eczema flare-up. Give your child an environment that is generally relaxed and that will help keep him calm. Encourage him to open up to you.
One excellent way to learn more about eczema care is to find a support group for your child and for you to learn more about this skin condition. One of the best support groups is the National Eczema Association for Science and Education (NEASE).
Another way for eczema care for your child is to try to keep him from overheating or sweating profusely. Overheating makes the skin irritated and worsen the symptoms of child ezema.
Also, for child eczema, you need to try to help him cope with extremes in temperature, either high or low. Try to keep your home cool during the summer and warm in the winter. A humidifier is a great tool for adding moisture into the air and can help keep your child from having an eczema flare-up. There is no cure for eczema, but it can be controlled by using these helpful hints.
by Evelyn Lim
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Putting a loved one into care is an incredibly emotional and stressful experience; I know, we had to do make the decision on behalf of my mum when dad was suffering with Parkinsons and dementia.
In mum’s case we were lucky, she could still afford to stay in their home even when paying for dad to be in a special care home. As mum’s home was big enough to create a bedroom downstairs and we had a loo on the same level, eventually as dad’s illness progressed, we were able to bring him home for the last few months.
However, not everyone is as lucky as we were so I’ve written a quick guide to different circumstances you may find yourself in so you know what options are available to you and you can try to work out what the best thing to do is.
Lone parent goes into a residential/nursing home or hospital temporarily
Firstly, despite some horror stories, if your loved one is in a home or nursing home for however long, no one can force you (or them) to sell the property. However, what will happen is if your parent is getting financial support to help for care at home, that money is likely to be stopped after four weeks of being in hospital.
It is important to remember if you have a loved one in temporary care and they are feeling poorly and frail, what happens to their home while they are away could be quite stressful. As a result, it is a good idea to put their mind at rest and either discuss a plan of action or let them know what you are going to do.
Sadly another fact of life is that if your parent hasn’t been very well, and especially if they are suffering with any dementia related illnesses, that they have managed to keep up to speed with all their bills such as phone/gas and electricity/TV licence etc. Check with each service what you can do to keep the power/line active while keeping the bills as low as possible.
Whatever you decide, the first thing to check is your parent’s home insurance. If the property is going to be unoccupied for more than 30 days and you do not advise your insurance company, the insurance may be invalid. Speak to the insurance company to see what you can do or go to specialist companies such as Towergate who will insure the property cost effectively.
Once you’ve sorted the insurance, then it’s important to decide whether you are going to leave the property empty or whether another family member might stay there (who your parent will trust) or you can consider renting the property out.
Leaving a Property Empty Long Term
If you leave the property empty, then follow our ’empty property checklist’ to make sure that you keep it as safe as possible for when your parent returns:-
Empty Property Checklist
1. Make sure the property is insured for being empty for more than 30 days (or whatever the current home insurance covers).
2. Turn off the gas, water and all plugs so the property is kept safe.
3. Cancel or redirect as many deliveries as you can, such as milk, newspapers or other mail.
4. Ensure you have an alarm or something that would alert YOU or neighbours if they are around, that the property was being broken into.
5. Either ask a neighbour/friend to visit the property a couple of times a week or do it yourself and ensure all post is read and throw away (or cancel) anything that is no longer needed.
6. Make sure that the curtains or blinds are closed/opened regularly.
7. Enhance security by having lights/radio etc coming on at different times of the day.
8. Ensure that the garden is kept in as good an order as possible. Contact ‘Help the Aged’ as they may be able to suggest a good value gardener that’s been checked by them.
9. In summer months, be on the lookout for unwanted visitors such as ants.
10. In the winter, check that the boiler still works.
Finally, when your mum or dad does come home, check the place over thoroughly a few weeks or so beforehand, especially if your parent may need some help or changes to the property post nursing/hospital care.
Renting an Owned Property
If you want to rent a property out, you are likely to have to do this for six months or more. You will also need to incur costs to let the property legally such as:-
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Gas Safety Certificate
- Electrical Safety Certificate OR self certifying that the electrics are safe
You also need to bear in mind that if you take a tenant on, you will need:-
1. An up to date tenancy agreement.
2. To protect deposits in a tenancy deposit scheme.
3. To carry out credit checks on the tenant.
You can legally do all this yourself, but if it’s your first time, it’s wise to use a recognised service as otherwise you may fall foul of the law or end up with a tenant that causes more hassle than it’s worth.
When the tenant moves in, you’ll need to:-
1. Make sure all furniture and appliances are checked independently to meet fire safety legislation.
2. Have an inventory, ideally from a member of the The AIIC.
3. Secure specialist buy to let insurance to protect the property from rogue tenants and any damage.
Finally, remember that any excess rental income versus allowable costs your parent receives could be taxable, so you’ll need to check this out too!
What to do if a lone parent is moved into a residential/nursing home permanently
This is such a tough time for everyone. Sometimes it’s a relief all round, other times it can be very tense. Depending on your circumstances, you have two courses of action: to sell the property or rent it out.
Whether you decide to rent out the property or sell it often depends on three factors:-
1. Is your parent ‘happy’ to let go of the property or do they still think they will come home at some stage? This can be the case especially if people have dementia.
2. The state of the market. If the market isn’t particularly buoyant, for example at the moment, then it might not be the ideal time to sell.
3. Whether you and your parent want to sell the ‘family’ home.
Essentially, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to deal with issues such as ‘Power of Attorney’ to allow you to take over your parent’s affairs. The Alzheimer’s Society explains this quite well, although your parent doesn’t need to have dementia to have a Power of Attorney, but you will need their consent.
It is important to speak to your parent on a ‘good day’ and ask them what they would like to do, explaining all the different options and the pros and cons of each of them.
Pros and Cons of Different Options
Buying your Parent’s Home
You might decide to rent out your own home (or sell) and buy your parent’s home instead as it might be bigger, and just what you are after. Before you do this, you need to talk to a legal expert and an inheritance tax expert to find the best way for you to do this, for your circumstances.
Sometimes this option can be a real bonus to a parent as when they come to visit they are still coming back to their own home. However, it’s more complicated if there is more than one sibling.
Your parent can come back for visits to their own ‘home’.
May mean you secure the property you want for your family.
Difficult option if you have brothers/sisters as you might not be able to agree on a fair settlement.
Need to seek tax and legal advice which will cost several hundred pounds.
If you don’t want to sell your parent’s home now and renting it out won’t cover care fees, then you could consider releasing some equity until you decide what you want to do longer term.
For more information about equity release, read our Equity Release guide. Make sure that any company you contact about equity release is a member of SHIP.
Relatively easy and quick to secure funds
Can help if money is tight during a stressful time
Can be more costly than selling up or renting
It’s not an instant solution, so will take some weeks to set up
Selling your Parent’s Home
In some cases you may have little choice but to sell the home to help fund your parent’s costs of being in residential/nursing care. There have been some media reports of people having to sell their homes to fund their hospital care.
Makes a clean break with the home so your parent can move on.
The money can help support your parent while in care, helping to choose which home they go into.
May be too stressful for your parent to let go of the property.
If selling in a poor market, it may mean that it takes a while to sell the property and you have to sell at a discount to find a buyer.
Renting out your Parent’s Home
This might be a good option if your parent hasn’t yet accepted that they need to sell their home, or it’s the right thing for them. It may also be helpful if the market isn’t very good and it’s taking some time to sell a property.
Leaves your options open so you have some time to decide what to do with the property.
Can help fund care costs if required.
Renting a home requires checks and changes to the property and will incur costs prior to renting.
Tenants could cause problems or damage the property.
What are your options if you have one poorly parent and one well parent?
On the one hand this can make things easier, as often, the parent who is well will be able to help make the decisions and they will often want to either stay in the home or move, so it takes renting out of the equation.
Ideally you’ll need to discuss with both parents what they want to do, but it’s important not to rush into anything. Many people making decisions at times like this when stress levels are high, end up making the wrong decision and then incurring more cost later on as they ‘change their mind’.
As a result, it’s important to consider lots of questions and then decide on some options which, ideally, can be trialled.
For example, when you have two parents, one of whom is ill either temporarily or long term, it’s important to think through not only the next few months and the next year, but also what happens when only one parent is left. A hard thought I know, but it’s often what people don’t think through and the consequences of not working this out can incur further unnecessary costs later on. I know this is hard to do, but some may be better off staying in their own home, others may be better off downsizing and some may be better off moving close to a family member.
Top 10 Things to Consider when one parent is poorly or needs care
1. How ‘attached’ to the area are your parents? Are all their friends there? Do they have hobbies such as bowling/theatre nearby that they would miss if moved?
2. How adaptable is the home they are in? Does a downstairs bedroom/bathroom facility exist or can it be created?
3. Is it possible or practical to have care at home in the short or long term? How much would this cost?
4. Are there people nearby that can help in an emergency?
5. If one of your parent’s is a carer of the other, how would you manage if they became ill?
6. If your parents do trade down, what equity would be left over after the sale to buy another home?
7. Would an ordinary property be OK or would your parents benefit from retirement living in specially built properties or warden aided facilities? What would be the additional costs of this type of property?
8. What facilities would the new property need to have? What is it likely to cost?
9. If a parent needs regular hospital/residential care, what transport facilities would be required long term? A car may be fine now, but can your parents get their easily by public transport/taxi?
10. How much can you as a family help with the care, what’s practical, what other help and support can you secure?
There are lots of organisations that can help you with these decisions, for example ‘Help the Aged’. Alternatively, your local social worker should be able to help and you should be allocated one during your loved ones stay in hospital or care. It’s important to liaise with social workers as they understand the rules and regulations of funding short and long term care, and what other financial or home support help you are entitled to.
by Kate Faulkner
It is not always easy to run a home child care center. You will be giving up some of the valuable living space that you and your family have in order to turn it into space for your business. You may also face limitations under your license that are stricter than those operating out of commercial premises will face such as group size restrictions.
On the bright side though you will be saving a fortune on rent and the other expenses associated with leasing a building. This lowers your risk dramatically as your operating expenses will be much lower if you are doing business from home. You will also be closer to your own family and you won’t have the headaches associated with commuting to a job.
When opening a home child care center you have to think about how to make the most of the space that you have available. You have to create a safe and stimulating environment for the children that you will be responsible for as well as taking your own family needs into account.
Children need structure and routine so you should organize the space that you have into areas for specific purposes. At a minimum you will need a floor area with cushions for children to play and sit on the ground, an area with tables for them to eat or do art projects, an area for napping and an outdoor play area for their recreation and sports activities. Try to give children communal play areas where they can play with other children and also areas where they can quietly do activities alone if they prefer.
Install lockers where children can store their personal belongings and learn to take responsibility for looking after their property in a space that is designated for them and has their name on it. Having lots of storage space in general will avoid clutter and help you and your staff to stay organized.
Give the children some input into their environment. While you will have designed a basic layout, let the kids move things around to some extent. Let them put their own touch on the center by putting their artwork around the place.
You should safety-proof the entire area of your child care center, as well as other areas of your home, so that they are also safe in the unlikely event that children stray into them. Priorities here are to keep dangerous items away from children by locking them away, to keep children within safe areas by using fencing and gates and to protect children from hard or sharp objects by putting padding on them. You should safety proof outdoor areas as well by checking for poisonous plants or other dangers that you may have in your gardens. This area is really too broad for the scope of this article and you should look further into the subject. Check with local retailers to find out more about some of the safety products that are available.
Set up an area for the administration side of the business and ensure that this area is kept separate from the daycare. This area should also be well organized and have places where records can be stored in a safe place that is off limits to the children.
If you can create an environment that is clean, safe, organized and structured without being unappealing to kids then you are well on your way to having a home child care business that children will enjoy attending and adults will find appealing.
By Sienna Brown
As Child Care Professionals we often leave our institute of learning and think that’s it, we are now “fully developed” in our field. This is far from the truth. Staff development in any child care service is vital to remaining a fresh vibrant service, offering the best for the children in our care. The child care profession is physically and emotionally draining, and it can often be difficult to keep our staff motivated to continue professional development. Here are four thoughts to consider when motivating your staff in child care centres to keep developing professionally:
Develop a Culture of Continuous Learning
Whenever there is a pre-existing culture in any workplace, new staff tend to take this culture onboard in their own work ethics. In child care centres, if our current staff culture promotes and values professional development, new staff will quickly be energized by others around them.
Alternatively, where there is a pre-existing culture of negativity about professional development, you can slowly begin to shift the culture by making this part of the induction program for new staff. Encourage new staff by sharing the positives of continued professional development and utilize their fresh new knowledge in developing the skills of current staff. Training does not always need to be formal participation in presentations. It can be through learning from each other.
Provide Innovative Training
When staff training and development becomes routine, then we quickly become bored and demotivated to learn. Teachers and educators develop skills in ‘selling’ learning, and as Directors and Authorised Supervisors we should be looking for training that excites and ‘sells’ to our staff.
Not only should the style of presentation be innovative, but the topics and professional learning areas should also be innovative. Offering training on the same topics each year usually brings forth comments from staff such as “yeah, done that one”, or “heard it all before”. Training should incorporate the latest research coupled with a variety of presenters from varied backgrounds.
Utilising outside training is good, but it shouldn’t be the only form of training offered. Why not have staff within your service present training for each other. Often when we research a topic to present to others we actually learn more than simply listening to information.
Respect Staff’s Time
Often, particularly in private child care services, staff are giving of their own time to attend training. Even when training is offered within staff’s allocated working hours, they are giving up programming time or time working with their children. If we respect their time and provide concise, impacting training, they are more likely to be motivated to participate with their full attention.
Training DVDs can be presented to your staff in your own early childhood setting. This removes travelling time to training venues, and allows staff to explore topics together. How often do we send one or two of our staff to training with the intention of them sharing the information with the whole staff, only to find other agenda items take our time and attention. On issues such as learning centres for example, each staff member hearing the training first hand allows the whole staff team to fully engage with the concepts and ideas, which facilitates better outcomes for the centre and children.
Provide Incentive Programs
After a hard day working with children, let’s be realistic and recognize that often we need some external motivation to participate in training. Whether this be recognition in our newsletters or on bulletin boards for parents to see, small rewards such as buying staff a coffee, a certificate for the staff’s portfolio, ‘early marks’ where child ratios allow, or long standing programs with end of year rewards (eg when staff attend 10 training sessions they receive a massage / spa and body treatment at the local beauty salon). Each centre needs to tailor this to their own staff interests and financial resources.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of Directors, Authorised Supervisors and Licensees to ensure staff maintain their professional development. Training motivates, refreshes, reminds, and challenges staff professionals, for the benefit of themselves, their colleagues, and the children and families in our child care services.
By Cassandra Eccleston
The recent sexual assault of a 4-year old girl at daycare center should get the attention of any parent who is thinking about using a child daycare center. Police in Springdale Arkansas arrested 18-year-old Cesar Monarrez who worked at the Royal Children’s Academy part time. The 4-year old girl told her parents that Monarrez touched her with a knife. It is my understanding that this happened during nap time and the daycare center uses video surveillance which captured the assault.
Millions of parents drop off their small children each day at daycare centers with the thought that their children will be safe because these centers are regulated and you don’t hear of many cases where kids are assaulted at these locations. For the most part the vast majority of daycare centers provide a safe and loving environment for our children. Many daycare centers utilize video surveillance to further protect children from abuse and neglect. The use of video surveillance also affords parents the opportunity to check on their children from the internet while at work or home. I applaud the daycare centers who utilize video surveillance systems that have the feature where parents can watch the video feed from home or work. If I was looking for a daycare center for a small child I would most definitely select one that has this type of video surveillance.
An important safety element of daycare centers is the selection of employees who will be caring for your children while you are at work. I think many daycare centers are lacking in this area because they do not pay their employees well which leads to high turnover. Look for a school that has teacher/caregivers that have been at the facility for a long time. Stay away from daycare centers who have new teachers/caregivers starting every other month. Ask the daycare that you are considering about their employees and ask if they do thorough background checks. If the owner/administrator of the daycare center appears uninspired about safety precautions, leave and never look back.
In the Springdale Arkansas case, the suspect was an 18-year old male part time employee. As a father who has had his daughter in daycare I can tell you that I would not choose a daycare center that uses male employees. It has been my experience over the past 19 years in law enforcement that men are more often the offenders in assaults on children, it’s a fact. If you visit daycare centers you will see that 99.9% of the employees are women and there is a reason for that. Most daycare centers understand that parents are not comfortable leaving their small children with men they do not know.
When you have found a daycare center that you like, check with your state business office and see if there have been any complaints or violations. Call your local police agency and try and ascertain if there have been any investigations/complaints at the daycare. Sometimes there may be a police investigation at a daycare center and it may not have been reported or logged with the state business regulation department. Crime stats are public information and many police agencies have log books that you can review to see where crime has been reported.
Once your child is going to a daycare center that you have chosen you still need to be alert for your child’s safety. Make unexpected visits to the daycare center at different times to see first hand the environment your child is in. When my daughter was 3 I had to find another daycare center for her because the travel time to her current daycare center was too great. I found a daycare center at a local church and a fellow police officers mother was the administrator. I toured the daycare center and found it to be very modern and fully staffed. The administrator was a very loving and safety oriented older women who had been working at the daycare center for years. The only concern that I had was the fact that the daycare center used 18 year old college students as part time teacher’s aides in each classroom. This was a concern to me because it is my belief that young women do not have the patience or experience to be caring for my child. My ideal daycare teacher/caregiver is mother or grandmother over the age of 30 who works in the daycare field because they love children and not because they are desperate for work.
I decided to go with this church daycare and I felt confidant that I had made a wise decision. I think that due to my job as a Police Officer I am more cautious and safe than the average parent. I would pick up m child in the late afternoon when my shift was over and my ex-wife was responsible for dropping her off in the morning. 2 weeks passed and all was well with the new daycare center. I was pleased that the entire staff was very safety oriented. One afternoon I arrived at the daycare center in my police cruiser and in full uniform. My daughter was on the fenced in playground with 2 teachers that I had not seen before. I walked to the playground and one of the teachers demanded picture identification from me in order to pick up my daughter. I was pleasantly surprised that she asked for my identification and I gladly gave it to her. Daycare centers must demand picture id from anyone picking up a child that is not known by the staff.
Several days later I was off and had the opportunity to take my daughter to the daycare center. I arrived at the school and walked my daughter to the classroom that is used for playtime in the morning. I walked into the classroom and observed a horde of kids playing and a teacher that I had met before and a student aide that I had not seen before. I then observed a girl sitting on the ground crying for unknown reasons. The female student aide looked down at the child and said “you know I don’t like cry babies, now stop crying” The aide then called a nearby boy by his name and said “Johnny, tell Abby that I don’t like cry babies” I kissed my daughter goodbye and left the school.
While driving home I thought about the incident with the crying girl and the student aide and it disturbed me. The parents of that child had no idea that their child was laying on the ground crying and the teacher and student aide did nothing to comfort her. The only action taken by the staff was the student aide ridiculed the crying girl and made fun of her in front of the other children. I turned my truck around and drove back to the school where I marched to the administrators office. I spoke with the administrator and informed her of the incident and the told her that I was extremely unhappy because that could have been my daughter that was being treated in such a cold manner by the staff. I told the administrator that I demand loving care for my daughter and was I observed earlier was cold and inappropriate behavior. That was my daughter’s last day at that daycare center.
I was referred to a large church in the city that has operated a daycare for years and all of the employees have been there for a very long time. The teacher in my daughter’s new classroom was very involved in that church and I found her to be a very loving teacher who thought of her job as a calling. My daughter spent 2 years at the new daycare and I have since referred many people there because I firmly believe that is a complete safe learning environment for small children.
As parents we owe to our precious little ones to be thorough in our search for a daycare center that is safe and employs the right people to care for our kids?
By Carl Dunde