Starting childcare is a big milestone for both you and your baby. It is not one to be taken lightly and is something that will require a fair amount of preparation. It is not really something you can decide on at the last minute!
Here we will outline the 5 most important steps to consider before your child’s first day
Get your Centrelink sorted!
This is an important one, which is why it is step one! It will have to be organised weeks before you even start child care as it can take some time. So pick up the phone call Family Assistance so you have the whole family’s customer reference numbers all written down for when you’re filling in your paper work. It is a good idea before you call to know what the combined income is for your family as well as individual incomes, as this is something they will ask you on the phone. If you’re not 100% sure on the numbers this would be a conversation you will need to have with your partner ahead of time. Always remember it is better to overestimate rather than underestimate because the last thing you want it a centrelink debt!
Please head on over to the family assistance website for more information and to find the right number to call!
Get yourself some name labels
Sounds like a small detail but you will have to name EVERYTHING! There are many different types of name labels out there such as woven name tags that you sew onto clothing, iron on name tags that you can iron onto clothing and printed name tags to stick on plastic items like drink bottles. Shoe Labels are also available as in a childcare centre you may find 3-4 other children have the same shoes as your child. Most centres require all items to be labelled so that if things go missing or get misplaced within the centre they can be found easier. If another parent takes your child’s belongings home by accident it will also be noticed and they will hopefully bring them back to the centre.
Spending money on labels will actually save you money in the long run as items will easily find their way back home. Most labels are also safe to use in the microwave, freezer and dishwasher and are very sticky to make them last.
You can also design your labels how you like and send your child in style! You can choose their favourite colour and add a picture to make their labels unique to them.
Make Lost property a thing of the past!
Check out this great site for labels Stuck On You
Organise your paperwork
When finding care for your child all services will require the same paperwork such as a copy of your child’s birth certificate, Customer Reference Numbers for both yourself and your child, Immunisation records and copies of any action plans if your child has allergies or asthma. For the immunisation record you will need to a print out from the immunisation register which is available through the mygov site or app as childcare services will not accept photocopies of the blue book. If you are having trouble finding childcare availabilities for your child you will come to dread filling out more waitlist form so by having this paperwork ready it will save you running around when you do find the right service.
Unfortunately all services have a different waitlist form so there is no one form, but they will all require the same information. It is important to have all contact details available for yourself, your partner, and emergency contact information. All forms will also require information about any orders in place affecting your child, special needs of your child, medical history of your child and information on who is allowed to collect your child.
Check Reviews and Ratings
When choosing care for your child, you probably go into Facebook groups and ask for recommendations, ask friends and family on recommendations and visit some services nearby. All of these are great starting points, but did you know that each centre has to go through accreditation and gets rated by the ACECQA? This ensures that all childcare centres across Australia have the same requirements. Services are assessed against the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS) and given an overall rating based on these results. The ratings are excellent rating, awarded by ACECQA, Exceeding National Quality Standard, Meeting National Quality Standard, Working towards National Quality Standard and Significant Improvement Required.
All centres must display their ratings, but if it isn’t the best rating, may try and ‘hide it’ from the view of families but anyone may ask to view it. If you do find a centre you like and you are satisfied with their rating, also look at reviews. Either search the internet with the services name or ask on local Facebook groups or groups such as Childcare Mums and Dads. Most people are open and honest and provide both positive and negative experiences.
Preparing for the First Day!
As starting childcare is a big milestone for both you and your baby, being prepared for their first day will help the process. Being prepared with the necessities is important such as backpack, lunchbox, drink bottle, cot sheets, spares clothes, dummies and comforters that are all labelled to name a few. Also being prepared with the new child care daily routine that will now be in place is very important to ensure less disruption to your child and baby.
I would highly recommend taking your child in for numerous play dates at the centre before beginning care so that they are familiar with the carers and get used to being around lots of other children with you there as a comfort. When talking to your child it is important to discuss the positives in it for them such as playing with lots of toys, making new friends and not saying things like, “mummy will be so sad when you’re not with me tomorrow”. As we want this experience to be positive.