Which industry would consider childcare

What makes a good daycare center and how parents should proceed when choosing

Even if a lot of things go wrong with childcare, not all facilities are bad. We asked industry experts and caregivers how mothers and fathers recognize a good one.

Is my child in competent hands? Is it well taken care of? Does it feel good and are its needs taken seriously and taken seriously? Many mothers and fathers who have their babies and toddlers looked after by strangers are likely to ask themselves such questions - and not just since the poor conditions in the childcare industry hit the headlines due to alleged grievances at the largest Swiss daycare chain.

The good news first: Although most institutions are confronted with challenges such as a shortage of skilled workers or tight financial resources, this does not mean that this necessarily has to affect the quality of care. Experts, industry insiders and a number of childcare workers with whom the NZZ spoke assure us that when motivated teams are at work and pull together, the store usually runs flawlessly.

Chains aren't bad per se

It does not depend on the size of the daycare center or whether it is part of a chain. Even with alliances with a bad image, an individual branch can be run excellently or, conversely, with those with the best reputation, there can be a black sheep among them.

When choosing a daycare center, it is important to have an on-site preliminary talk. Several institutions should be considered. The city of Zurich and the industry association Kibesuisse, for example, have compiled on their websites what you should pay attention to when visiting and what makes a good daycare center. Daycare centers themselves also recommend asking around among friends and acquaintances and writing down any questions that you would like to ask.

When visiting, however, it should not only be about the so-called support key, the training standard of the staff or the menu plan, but also about looking at the premises and experiencing the atmosphere as “live” as possible. Parents can not only observe how the children are treated, but also how employees interact and what the general mood is like.

Professional marketing does not necessarily mean professional support

What it shouldn't be about in the first place, however, are the childcare tariff, the location and opening times of the daycare center, beautiful premises or professional websites. Long days of care, for example, may be particularly convenient for some mothers and fathers - they are usually less so for the children and employees.

More important than pretty toys or stylish furnishings are, for example, a protected frame for babies, enough outside space or a playground nearby. And finally, marketing professionals are not necessarily also childcare professionals. Or: funds that are invested in PR and advertising may sometimes be missing elsewhere. In any case, the pedagogical concept should be in the foreground on both the parents and the provider side.

Speaking English is not yet an early intervention

It wouldn't be wrong to look at different models in advance and think about what you want: Should the group be mixed in age or not (both have advantages and disadvantages), should the day care center be multilingual or not?

Funding promises of any kind should be taken with caution, for example with regard to the learning of foreign languages. If the staff does not master this sufficiently, the prerequisites for sustainable learning success are anything but optimal. For children who do not speak German, a German-speaking daycare center is also more advantageous. This makes it easier for them to move onto kindergarten later.

Of course, there is always a residual risk that something will be sold to mothers and fathers for more than worth. After all, they cannot play mice during the effective external care. Even the children in care cannot really express themselves in a meaningful way about the situation they experienced - if only because they lack the means of comparison. If they can speak at all, a toddler may complain of stomach ache more often if they are not feeling well. However, these could just as well result from diet or physical ailment.

A missing quality label doesn't mean anything

Independent quality seals such as the Quali-Kita label, which is awarded by the Kibesuisse industry association, among others, promise a neutral assessment. According to the label, certified companies are committed to positive child development. When allocating, not only structural quality features such as the size of the room or the care key would be taken into account, but also process-related ones such as the interaction between children and care staff. In contrast to the ISO9001 standard certificate from the German TÜV, which is more geared towards structures and administrative processes, the label is not awarded to the sponsor, but to individual companies.

While no quality daycare center is bad, that does not mean, conversely, that a daycare center cannot be good without this label. As self-certified institutions point out, recognition is time-consuming and costly. The label was only introduced six years ago. This means that some daycare centers have not yet been able to complete the certification process, others may or may not be able to afford it.

There are also alternatives to daycare

Experts and industry insiders therefore recommend that parents primarily trust their instincts. If you have a bad gut feeling when visiting, you should listen to it. In addition, you should definitely ask if something is unclear or does not feel good. If distrust persists or has not been cleared, it is advisable, according to the industry association, to change institutions.

Ultimately, the following applies: day care centers are not the right form of care for every child and every parent. Some prefer the day family model, others like it more familiar and employ a nanny or nanny. If you have several children, this can also be financially worthwhile.

Nevertheless, the needs of the parents should not come first, but those of the child - and then those of the women and men who look after them. Because only if they have enough resources available can they guarantee optimal support.