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Baby's first year : Day Nurseries

What are day nurseries?

Day nurseries provide care for children under five years of age. Most nurseries are registered with the local council and their work is regularly inspected. They are open all working days of the year and cater especially for working parents. Nurseries may be run by the community (non-profit) or privately. Some offices also provide day nurseries for their staff.

What does being registered mean?

If a service is registered, the Registration and Inspection Unit of the local authority will have assessed its ability to look after children by:

  • -interviewing the manager/owner and taking up character, police and health references
  • -checking the premises, both indoors and outdoors
  • -ensuring that references are taken up with relevant health agencies and police authorities on all members of staff and volunteers (over the age of 16)
  • -arranging for the Fire Service to inspect the premises
  • -arranging for an Environment Health Office to inspect the premises
  • -deciding the number and ages of children allowed to use the service according to the space and staff available
  • -calculating the number of staff required in relation to the age of the children
  • -checking that there are adequate toilet and washing facilities
  • -checking that the play areas,toys and equipment are adequate
  • -requiring staff to be appropriately trained, experienced, or qualified
  • -requiring the service to have public liability insurance
  • -setting basic standards for childcare

Are all day nurseries registered with the council?

It is a legal requirement that if any non-domestic premises is being used for childcare for children under the age of 8 years of age for more than two hours a day, it must be registered. However, there are exceptions to this requirement. If you are unsure whether the day nursery you are visiting is registered or not, ask the manager for a certificate of registration and the latest inspection report.

What are the benefits of using a day nursery?

  • Your child is able to learn and play in a stimulating environment with other children and hence learns to socialise.
  • Most nurseries are able to offer both part time and full time care, hence suitable for working parents
  • Very professional routine with most nurseries providing a daily report of the child's activities

What are the important things to look out for in a day nursery?

Although you may need to visit quite a few places before you make up your mind, the following questions may guie you into taking an informed decision:

  • Are you and your child made welcome when you visit the place for the first time?
  • Do the children there look content and happy and not sad-faced or bored?
  • Do the timings suit your working schedule?
  • What provision is there to settle your child in comfortably?
  • Is there a system of key worker for every child?
  • How are you informed of your child's daily activities?
  • Are there enough and appropriate toys and books?
  • Are there any noticeable cultural or sex discriminations?
  • What provisions are there for sleeping?
  • Is there an outdoor play area? If yes, is it safe?
  • Are there any special facilities for babies?
  • What food is provided? Does it seem nutritious?
  • Is the staff fully qualified and trained?
  • What emergency procedures are there for first aid etc.?

How many children are allowed in a nursery?

The number of children in a nursery depends on the size of the nursery and the staff present to help with the children. Most nurseries have between 20 to 50 children. Children are organised in smaller groups e.g. there may be a separate section for children under 2 years of age.

What is the age of children in a nursery?

Most nurseries cater for children up to the age of five years.

Are day nurseries full time or part time only?

Most nurseries offer both full time and part time facilities. You may need to check with the nursery first.

Where can I find registered nurseries in my area?

You can look up your local phone book for details of nurseries in your area. Alternatively, you can call your local council for details.

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