By Swati Popat Vats
President, Early Childhood Association
Yet another incident of sheer lack of safety and training negligence in a day care in Gurgaon and a child loses her finger. Media will give headlines/debates for a few days? Dharna outside the daycare? Social media hammering of the owners? Will this help the little girl and her family?
What are required are strict laws and policies about safety and safety management in day cares and preschools. And then regulating these guidelines and policies by committed organizations appointed by the government. I did not suggest government to supervise these because our country is far behind when it comes to understanding and researching about early child care and education.
Till the government creates a child-centric policy and child-centric department, it is best is if the government appoints some committed associations that have the expertise and experience to supervise, identify loopholes and train the staff. Then these centers approved/supervised by these associations to be put up on the women and child development ministry website as safe and licensed so that parents can check which centers to choose before enrolling their young children.
The early childhood association also appeals to parents to do two things before selecting a center, be it a preschool or a day care:
1.Visit the center and check in person the safety aspects of the center.
a. Are doors too heavy? Have they put finger guards on the doors so that kid’s fingers are safe? Are the commodes used adult size or child size? If adult size how are they ensuring that the child will be safe on the commode? What is the nappy changing procedure? What is the feeding procedure?
b. Are the staff trained regularly? Both teachers and support staff like ayahs? Ask to see their training manual? Do they wash their hands regularly before feeding or nappy change? Please remember- sanitize before nappy change and wash hands with soap before feeding. (As sanitizers are bad if ingested by young babies/children)
2.Check the qualifications of the people running the center and how involved are they in the daily running.
a. Don’t get swayed by colourful brochures or colourful ambience
b. Don’t go only on brand names- when it comes to child care trust your instincts not only branding.
And above all we suggest that parents must be made a part of the quality audit of the center so that parents can also suggest if any changes need to be made in the layout, daily routine or safety aspects of the center. CCTV is not safety. CCTV does not monitor. So, stop being satisfied if a center has CCTV. Be satisfied when the center feels safe, looks safe, and answers safety related questions. Who is their doctor on call? Do they do regular fire drills? Do they have a risk assessment done? What is their medical emergency protocol?
It is the time to understand that safety of our children is everyone’s duty. Outsource childcare, but do not outsource caring for your child. So, when selecting a preschool and a daycare, choose with caution and be involved.
It is the time for the government to realize that every child in every state is important so why do we have different policies and safety rules in each state? It is the time for one nation, one policy and it is the time to have a separate ministry for early childhood care and education.