If you are on the hunt for a childcare centre in the area for your child, you'll see that one of the big choices you are faced with is whether to go with a chain or a standalone childcare centre. Here are some of the pros and cons of both options.
Chains of childcare centres
One of the main advantages of a large chain of child care centres is that there is usually more centralised oversight of how the centre is run and more support from the main office in terms of administration. This leaves the local staff free to concentrate on looking after the child in their care and organise interesting and vibrant learning programs for the children. Centralised administration can also lead to lower costs, as the cost of ordering supplies, payroll and other administration tasks is divided over a much larger base of customers. The larger buying power can also result in lower input costs.
However, some parents feel that chains of child care centres can be less flexible, and all effort is made to keep the centres at full utilisation so they can be much larger and busier. This structured approach can be fantastic to help children prepare for school but can be an adjustment if a child has previously only had in home care with small groups of family and friends.
Standalone centres are often very homely and in a lot of ways mimic the environment children experience at home. Standalones can be smaller, and often have more flexibility around special requirements as they operate individually. The homely atmosphere can help attract and retain staff and creates a more family-like atmosphere for the kids. The costs can vary substantially depending on the level of care and overheads built into the daily rate.
At a standalone centre, the staff often take on multiple roles, so at times they may be juggling childcare with cleaning, food preparation and administration (similarly to stay-at-home parents).
No matter which type of childcare you select, you can rest assured that they all need to meet the high levels of care set down by the state and federal governments. Childcare is a highly regulated field and much emphasis is placed on making sure your children are physically safe and emotionally secure while at childcare. Why not try touring a range of childcare centres in your area to see which one might suit your family.