Little Tips To Finding A Childcare for Your Child

Monday, April 07, 2014

Following my previous post on being a SAHM who sends her child to childcare, I am back today to share a few tips to finding a childcare for your bubs if you need one.

I know I've said this before, but I'm gonna say it again - Do not let the society conform you to who you are. You can be:

1. A working mother who already has a caretaker at home, but is considering sending your child to the childcare for a couple of hours. I'd say, DO IT. Don't let people tell you that you're wasting money or making things more troublesome for your caretaker to fetch your child to and fro.

2. A working mother who has no alternative help in taking care of your child. Well, DO IT. You can read this post that I've written back in 2012. After sending Dylan to the childcare for the past 17 months and looking at children who are being brought up at home, I'll still choose sending Dylan to the infant care if I'm given a choice again.

3. A SAHM who is thinking of sending your child to the childcare to get a breather. Hello and welcome to my life. You'd probably be judged the most, being so lazy and taking the easy way out, throwing your child to others so that you can indulge in your selfish activities. But you know what? DO IT. Send your child to the childcare because it will do more good than harm.

I'm sure most Singaporean would have read a couple of horror stories on child abuse in childcare, particularly the case which concluded in January this year where this teacher was found to be guilty of abusing a 2-year-old boy in My First Skool Toa Payoh. Shortly after this controversial story, another one sprouted out in Stomp, regarding a 9-month-old baby having his hand scalded by hot water.

I know right, the horror of reading all these news affect me even more because it hits really close to home. I'm not sure if I've shared this incident that happened to Dylan or not, but let me share it again.

When Dylan was about 10 months old, both the husband and I realized that he was getting really terrified about showering and having water running down from his head. He would thrash around and shout for us to stop, which was really unusual because Dylan was never afraid of water on his face. He can go swimming and have his face all splashed wet and all he would do is to blink off the water and continue to have fun, so the sudden fear got us concerned.

It was also noticed by another teacher, let's call her Teacher M. Teacher M was the in-charge for Dylan's infant care and she just came back from her maternity leave when she spoke to me about his sudden fear. We looked through the records and realized he was mostly being showered by this other teacher, Teacher K.

But before I go on, here's my first tip when you sign up for a childcare for your child. You will read the ending of this incident at the end!

Before signing up

Tip #1 Try to look for childcare centres that have lots of windows and they are not closed up.

I personally feel that a place has "nothing to hide" if it is fully open and visible to the public and also, members of the public tend to look into the childcare whenever they walk past one because these kids are usually too adorable to be ignored and these people make the best CCTV.

As an adult, will you ill-treat a child in a place where the public will see you? I doubt so. All the more if you're a teacher and you're expected to take care of these little bubs.

Tip #2 When you speak to the teachers, try to ask a little more question and see if they lose their patience with you

Taking care of children requires a lot of patience so if they can't even handle your little difficult questions without losing their temper, I'm pretty sure the children will drive the teachers crazy. So, go ahead, ask whatever questions that bothers you.

"Do you shower the children with cold water?"

"What is the procedure for bathing the children?" - it is a valid question to ask because some centers actually strip all their children naked and make them stand in a row and shower them individually while others shiver in the cold. I've a mummy friend who found that out herself because she is always wondering why her son keeps catching a cold. Now we know~

"What do you usually give the children for lunch?"

"Where do the children take their naps?"


Tip #3 Look out for distress in children

While asking questions, you can also take the chance to eye the surroundings while making all these inquiries. Are kids left unattended? Do they look like they are shorthanded? Are young babies being left to cry?

Even if you're brought into their admissions office for all these questions, you can also request to have a walk-through to see the teachers and students in action. I think this is a detrimental part in deciding whether you will settle for the particular childcare or not.


Tip #4 Past histories of the childcare center & hygiene!

When I signed Dylan up for his childcare, I made a long list of centres that are around our estate and the first few that I crossed out are those with histories of HFMD (hand-foot-mouth disease). HFMD is a really troublesome and contagious infection that spreads primarily among young children but also has a chance of spreading to adults as well.

When a child gets HFMD, the center will have to do a thorough cleaning and sterilizing of all toys/mats/cots.. whatever that a child could have touched. If the center has a very recent case of HFMD, I will avoid sending my child there to prevent getting infected.

When I first sent Dylan to his infant care, I was shocked at how lax their hygiene was at the infant care side. Babies will drop their pacifiers on the floor and teachers will just pick them up nonchalantly and stuff it back into their mouth... You can imagine how many times I've raised a "feedback" to the center. -__-

Tip #5 Ask to see if you can spend a day or two with your child in the center

I am not sure if all centers practice the same thing but Dylan's childcare allows parents to be with them for their first three days. I personally think that it is good for both parents and child, especially so when they are in toddler's class.

When Dylan attended toddler's class, he was undergoing separation anxiety (he's actually still experiencing it now) so he really didn't want to leave my side to be at a unfamiliar environment. Even though he goes to the same infant care in the center, they are actually in different rooms with different teachers so the entire experience is different as well.

Since I didn't need to work, I spent 1.5 days out of the 3 allowed days with him, basically following him everywhere and watching what the teachers do and I must say that I feel more at ease after spending a day there because you kinda know what they usually do and at the same time, you can let the teachers know whatever that you're concerned with so that they can take note of it.

I think it is a win-win situation for everybody.

***

When you're happy with what you see and what you experience from the childcare, you can then proceed to register your child with them! But before all these, let me warn you all mothers. It is extremely difficult to get a slot in childcare centers as they are usually full house and...

Waiting list can go as long as one to 1.5 years so if you're pregnant right now and already made up your mind to send your child to the childcare so that you can "focus on your career", go put yourselves on the waiting list.

However, this system differs from one center to another. Some centers may accept unborn babies on their waiting list, while some will only allow you to leave your name after you've given birth and produce a birth cert for admin purposes.

Some other FAQs which you may find useful:

Q: What is usually the rates like for infant care and toddler care?

A: Generally, infant care prices are more expensive than toddler care prices.

Infant care rates range from $800 to $1000 (half-day to full day care, without subsidy) and will cost about $500 to $600 with subsidy. Toddler care is slightly more affordable at $650 for a full-day care and about $500 for a half-day.

We pay $350 for full-day care, after subsidy.

However, one thing to note is that the rates differ from centers, even though they can be under the same "company". For example, the rates at My First Skool in Yishun may differ from the rates at My First Skool in Ang Mo Kio by as much as a couple of hundred bucks. I am assuming it's because they are run by different operators, hence the difference in prices.

And of course, if you go to those "government" kinda childcare centers, they are definitely more affordable than private ones. There are many people who think that private schools are better for their children as compared to government schools - that one I've no comment because we've never sent Dylan to a private childcare before so I won't know what difference it will make.

Q: What is the teacher-to-students ratio?

A: For infant care, the ratio is 1 teacher is to 5 infants. For toddler care, the ratio increases to 1 teacher is to 8 toddlers.

Q: How to apply for subsidy?

A: You will be asked to fill in a form to declare your working information and I remember having to submit our CPF records as well. Once verified that you're working, you will be entitled to the basic subsidy. You can also apply for additional subsidy if your combined income is less than $7500, or you have a minimum of 5 people in your family, then you can also apply for some subsidy based on per-capita income. Additional subsidy can go up to $200 so I'd say it's pretty useful for most of us.

I can't think of anything else at the moment, but if you do have any questions, please feel free to holla! I'd do my best to answer whatever questions to my knowledge.

***

Back to the story on Dylan being afraid of water, we realized that Teacher K was actually terrifying him with the shower head. While water was flowing onto Dylan's face and he asked for it to stop, Teacher K not only didn't stop spraying him with water, she continued to wash him without any words of comfort.

How did I know? I confronted Teacher K myself and asked her questions after questions. She didn't seem remorseful for doing that to Dylan; in fact, she thinks that Dylan was throwing up a fuss because he didn't want to shower. I proceeded to lodge a complain to the principal after the incident and I banned her from bathing Dylan completely.

Dylan has since "recovered" from the fear of water in his face and now, he not only is not afraid of the water anymore, he learned how to look down when we wash his head. We didn't teach him that, it was his toddler care teacher who taught him to do that. :)

Teacher K was also under-performing in many circumstances, like once, Dylan was following behind her while she opened a heavy glass door. Without even looking back to check if Dylan is close behind, she let the door slam. Thank goodness I was there and I pulled Dylan away before the glass door would close on his little fingers, which MAY break them because the door was really heavy.

I'm assuming she didn't give a damn about Dylan because she saw me with him and... shouldn't I be the one looking out for him? Her job ends as soon as I appear.

I guess there are people like that who work because they have to work. They become infant care teachers because there's nothing else for them to be.. they don't love their job, they don't love children. They are just doing it because, well, there's nothing else for them to be.

There was once Dylan brought his Elmo toy to school and by the end of it, I realized it was no longer in his bag. When I checked with Teacher K, who happened to be the only teacher on duty that day because it was a Saturday, she searched the whole place and told me that she couldn't find the Elmo.

She told me that Dylan probably threw it into the dustbin himself since she saw him playing around the dustbin.

I was like.. "You let the kids play around the dustbin?"

And again, with no remorse, "Yes, they can reach the bin to throw things inside."

I wonder how many toys they've lost over the days...

Regardless, I told Teacher K to help me keep a look out for it because Dylan really likes the Elmo toy and it is honestly not cheap. You know what she told me?

"Next time don't let your kid bring his own toy, especially those EXPENSIVE ones."

Whoa whoa whoa. I think after the complaint I sent in for the showering incident, she hasn't liked me very much but this was really.... bitchy.

I smiled and said, "He has been bringing it every weekend and didn't throw it away, I am surprised he decided to throw his toys away today, of all days. Anyway! If you've seen it, please help us keep it. Thanks!"

Of course she didn't bother looking for it anymore. She has dismissed us with a "he threw it away, it's gone", why would she make another effort to look for it right? Thank goodness there were other better teachers like Teacher L and Teacher M who really looked for Dylan's Elmo, and found it in the car boot of a toy car.

***

Whoop! OMG such a lengthy post! Please let me apologize... mothers tend to be a bit more long-winded and willing to share (until she forgets the time) with whoever is interested to read. Even if you're not interested this mother here will blab on anyway LOL.

Thank you for reading all the way down, if you did. I won't blame you if you didn't too... but most importantly, I do hope you find the tips and FAQ useful because that's really the point of this whole post. Me complaining about Teacher K is just a side-story.

Have a good evening and bye!!

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