Why choose Licensed Child Care …and what does it all mean!
I have had some interesting conversations with people over the last few months about licensed vs. unlicensed child care. I have worked in licensed child care programs my entire career which spans 25 years. I really want to share with you what being licensed truly means.
All licensed programs go through a licensing process to become licensed. This includes creating policies and procedures based on the regulations set by the government. These can be found in the Best Practices Licensing Manual. (I can show you this book at any time and it can also be found on line) The policies and procedures may seem extreme at times but they are in place to protect you and your child as well as me,
Every licensed program has a coordinator to help support with things like regulations, policies and any other issues that may arise. They want the programs to succeed and provide they best support they can. They visit each program several times throughout the year. These visits are drop-in visits which mean they arrive unannounced.
We also go through a re-licensing process once a year. The coordinator comes in, observes and goes through the policies and other regulations to make sure they are all being followed.
Included in the yearly licensing/re-licensing process:
The coordinator looks for a variety of things
- everyone who works in child care programs or lives in the provider’s home has completed criminal checks and child abuse registry checks
- required policies are posted (license, behaviour management, menus, fire escape routes, emergency phone numbers)
- space has enough age appropriate toys for kids
- space is safe (inside and outside)
- insurance is up to date
- any/all animals have their vaccinations up to date
The Fire Department does an inspection
- fire extinguishers inspected and in working order
- furnace inspection
- space is safe and has not fire hazards
The Health Inspector does an inspection
- proper cooking procedures are being followed
- proper sanitizing procedures
Unlicensed care, in a nutshell, is legal but they can only care for up to four children including their own at a time. There are no regulations for them to follow, no inspections and no support for them.
Not all licensed programs are created equal. There are good and bad in all sectors. What you need to decide as a parent is what are you comfortable with. You need to feel confident and comfortable when you are leaving your child in someone else’s care. Make sure to take a look around the space and program and ask lots of questions. Does this program have all the values you have? Do they do things you feel comfortable with? Is this a place where you would want your child to spend time?