Working parents? Weigh your childcare options!
"My childcare providers hurt my baby and forgot about it!" A Singaporean mother, about to sit for her postgraduate exam, received a call from her childcare provider saying that her 4 and a half month old baby was scalded during her bath. After three days, the teacher could not recall details. After four days, the owner said the baby kicked the tap and turned on the hot water. What conflict!
Choosing childcare for working parents can be a bit challenging.
Choosing childcare: When things go wrong during childcare...
The horror that this mother must have faced is unthinkable: the idea of your infant being scalded and you are not there to fix it. Stories that are conflicting from the childcare centre itself made it difficult to place blame and pin responsibility. With abuse cases in childcare centers on the rise, how are you to prepare yourself before you leave your child in someone else's care?
Choosing childcare: Why childcare?
In Malaysia, various options are available for working parents who need a childcare provider. These range from a full-time maid or babysitter to childcare centers and even retired family members. The number one consideration for childcare is costs, followed by quality of services. Many Malaysian parents used to opt for full-time foreign maids, until they have become expensive recently, and even so, difficult to procure.
The attention has now focused to childcare centers, which offer everything from daycare to after-school care to even full-time care with parents taking their babies home for just for the weekend. This usually only happens when parents are alone in cities with no other family members or trusted friends available to help care for the children.
Choosing childcare: Costs versus quality
Childcare centers are fighting a losing war it seems, when it comes to satisfying parents with appropriate childcare services. Whilst Malaysia has fixed regulations about all aspects of childcare centers, including ratios of staff to children, center owners claim they cannot provide proper services without charging expensive rates.
Some city childcare centers even charge as much as RM1500 per child for full time care, whilst ones outside cities still charge in the low hundreds. But types of services differ widely too, with the expensive ones providing quality educational and dietary services, whilst cheaper ones only mind the children and provide very basic fare.
Some services that should be given careful thought are:
~ The staff to child ratio, including qualifications and experience of each staff
~ Learning opportunities provided, and if stimulating play activities are designed
~ Hygiene across the board for staff and facilities
~ Types of food and drink provided, whether based on proper dietary and age requirements
At the end of the day, you should get what you pay for. It is pointless to expect staff with degrees if you only want to pay RM400, but you can certainly try getting the best value for your money. Both parties, you and the childcare center, have to be happy in order to have the best possible environment for your child.
Children's Support in Malaysia
15999 Childline is a national 24-hour telephone support service in Malaysia for children under 18 years. They provide information, care and referrals or recommendations to an appropriate support service. They also offer direct assistance to children in an emergency situation. Their landline number is 03 5569 2755 and Fax is 03 5569 3755
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