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  • Northside West

Checking a childcare facility

Monday, 29th July, 2019 6:00pm
Checking a childcare facility

Karen Clince with children at Tigers Childcare.

Checking a childcare facility

Karen Clince with children at Tigers Childcare.

LAST week’s ‘RTÉ Investigates’ documentary on a Northside childcare facility has caused concern for parents, and many have questions about their own children’s care.

To address some of the issues raised in the programme, Karen Clince from Castleknock, who is CEO and founder of Tigers Childcare, has come up with some timely advice to help parents assess their own children’s care facilities.

“A good quality childcare setting will understand that we are caring for your most prized possession and will treat you accordingly,” says Karen.

“You should be encouraged to ask questions until you feel comfortable with its staff and its practices. Knowledge can lead to empowerment in making the right choice for your children.”

So what questions should parents ask and what are potential red flags? Let’s take a look.

Who is my child’s carer and what is their qualification?

You should know at every stage who is caring for your child and their qualification and experience

Who is my child’s key worker?

Your child should have the same key worker for prolonged periods. 

As a child develops they need to build strong relationships with key staff in order for emotional development to be successful.

How often will I be able to get feedback on my child and his or her development?

You should have constant feedback on your child - both formal and informal.

What is my child’s individual care plan?

Although children are in group care, the curriculum and plan for your child should be unique to them.

The planning of your child's development should also be visible and open to you.

How are children settled for sleep time and comforted if distressed?

Sleep and rest should be led by the individual child's needs and not the service’s needs.

You should ask how children are settled and the policy on children who get upset or cry.

Can I stay until he/ she is settled in?

You should be encouraged to stay should you wish to during settling in. This will help you become accustomed to the general feel or ethos of a service. 

Can I visit any time I like?

There should be an open-door policy where you can enter a setting at any stage.

Can I see the play items for my child?

Play should always be central to your child's day. 

The classroom should contain items at the child's level and there should be an abundance of materials in good working order.

Is there a relaxation area?

There should be areas in a room for relaxation as well as play. 

Do you use bouncers and what are they used for?

In most good facilities there are no bouncers.

What about practices for nappy changing and feeding? How often are they changed, what is the routine, how long is taken? 

Good nappy changing should not be a conveyer belt of children but an important opportunity for individual care time - songs, lessons in handwashing, finger and toe counting.

Similarly food times should be happy communal events where all children sit together. Once a child can sit unaided they should be sitting at a table enjoying this occasion.

What is the art and classwork plan?

Children should be encouraged to be individuals and class and artwork should not be repetitive.

A perfect wall display shows that children were not allowed self-expression. You should see the child’s work and not the adults.

How are staff rewarded, encouraged, trained?

Staff should have very regular supervision and meetings with managers allowing them to raise any issues or concerns. Continuous professional development isn’t obligatory, but if it’s available and paid for by the owner it is indicative of a very good facility.

How many people hold first aid and child protection?

Standard practice is that one person trained in first aid is always on site and that two people are trained in child protection. Best practice is that everyone is trained in both areas.

If we have concerns how do we address these?

There should be a clear way or addressing concerns if you have them.


• It is not normal to hear constant crying in a service. 

• Language used towards children should be positive, explanatory and always calm. 

• You should never see a carer on a mobile phone.

• Young children should not spend long amounts of times in seating. At Tigers Childcare, we would discourage the use of bouncers or stand-alone high chairs for young children.

• Behaviour management for children should always be looking to encourage self-regulation and personal development and not overly penalising. 

• Make sure checks and audits are in place for you to view.

• You should feel your child is loved and cared for by the staff. 

• You and your child should always have your views acknowledged.

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