Due to careless parenting and poor planning we are only now searching for childcare for the boys in Dublin in September. After phoning about we identified some creches which might be suitable. Mr. Waffle’s parents kindly agreed to go and inspect them as we won’t be back in Dublin until late Summer. This blog post is how I reward them, truly, I am an unworthy daughter-in-law.
As guidance, we gave them the following:
“Kind of things to look for:
Carer to child ratio
Are the carers nice? Are they sitting on the floor with the children?
Do the children seem happy?
Is there an outdoor play area?
Is there plenty of room indoors?
Assume no TV – if TV, particularly on display will be horrified.
Is it clean?
Our current creche does not meet all of these criteria but, you know, we’re shooting for the stars here.”
I had assumed, in a very sexist way, that my mother-in-law would do the inspecting but in fact she and my father-in-law went together. My father-in-law has not been a captain of industry for many years (now retired) without knowing that you must be able to measure performance. When reporting back to us the other evening (orally, written report follows below) he said that he had two satisfactory responses to the question of how to ensure the children were happy. We were quite startled but he was obviously keen to hold these people to SMART targets on behalf of his little grandsons. And I have proof. Highlights from the report follow:
(Member of the Advisory body for the sector?) eg NCNA? –yes.
How long established? This crèche seems to be up and running for at least 6/7 years. It has an overall capacity of about 45+ children, and is certainly looking to replace kids who will leave the Montessori group this summer.
We spoke with the manager … a young [exotic nationality] lady who has risen up through the ranks since joining in 2001.
The happiness factor: When asked to comment on how the crèche delivers on this key ingredient for the children the manager was adamant that staff quality and commitment is the number 1 factor. The kids we saw certainly seemed to bear this out as we saw them interact in play with their teachers, moving from room to room with supervision…
Staff/children ratios: this varies in a regulated fashion across babies (about 1:3), toddlers (1:5/6) up to Montessori (around 1:10). Staff seemed very conscious of these ratios from all angles (financial, delivering proper care and of course the regulatory dimension (see “other comments” below)
Carers: with one exception, the staff come from outside Ireland (e.g. the Montessori teacher is Czech). We were assured that they all had child-care qualifications from their home countries, which are recognised here.
Outdoor/Indoor facilities: the crèche is in a modern block [lots more useful and informative details but maybe not so fascinating for you gentle reader]. The street outside seems fine with no obvious druggies, winos, weirdos about, unless you count [prominent Irish person] who lives a block away.
TV/other : they do use kiddy DVDs but sparingly. such a use would be on wind-down day (Friday) in the afternoon, when the kids have had a long week at the crèche and can benefit from a little (1 hour limit) audio-visual entertainment
Feeding arrangements (parent-supplied, in-house, catering?): inhouse cooking-we have copy of a typical week’s lunch menu and it covers main meals such as chicken (several guises) tuna, spag bol, etc. the manager [who you will recall is from a far-off land] defined this as “typical Irish food”. Feeding times are beakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack.
Standard routines for toddlers?
Very much Montessori driven, with skills and general learning in the am, and more group play happenings when the children are a little more tired in the afternoon.
Cleanliness/tidiness : Fine :we looked across rooms, loos, changing areas, external play area, etc
Other comments / miscellaneous musings:
- Manager seemed cheerful, capable, hands-on and committed to her work
- D&M would start on September 1 as toddlers and progress within weeks (after their birthdays) to the Montessori section, in line with Dept of Ed guidelines (sound of hollow laughter off)
- The crèche looks for kids of this level to be toilet-trained, but will help with this if they are not
See, captains of industry are thorough. Do you like all the additional pertinent questions they thought of? Admit it, you would love to have my parents-in-law inspect your child’s creche. I can see a really lucrative sideline developing for them in this field.