Safety in Childcare Environments
At KidooLand we pride ourselves on a good safety record and having put health and safety measures into place that we maintain and monitor.
A hazard of my job is that I am so aware of the many regulations that leaving my children elsewhere can be quite a challenge sometimes!
It doesn't help that I know locally of an English club who transport children in their own cars and haven't declared their overnight camps to the authorities, a tennis club who again transport kids in their own cars, a language centre who do not seem to adhere to many safety requirements with regards to electrics, a dance school with radiators that are non-conform ..it is a minefield out there!
Here are some tips on what to look for ..
Do they have those electric radiators at a height that can be touched by children ? If so they may not know it but these are illegal. They can get to such a temperature that they will burn a small child.
You would know this , if you have had one of the professional health and safety companies come and check the installations.
If your dance club, theatre group, school etc has these it surely would suggest that they are not doing regular health and safety controls which should be a case for concern.
Look too as to whether the plug points are at the regulation height .. these should not be on the ground level as you might have at home - again it is breaking another law and would have been identified by the Building inspectors who should be coming once per year. If they have them, it means they are not respecting the law.
What about their fire extinguishers - they are sure to have them if you can't see them then by the front door will be the Plan d'Evacuation (again a legal requirement when having members of the public come into your place for an activity) which will indicate their location.
Are they intact or has a seal been broken?
Have they been checked in the last 12 months (it will be written on the label).
All training and health and safety checks will be noted in the security register (Registre de sécurité) - you have a right to see this so if in doubt ask. Even little associations should have this, it's law.
A good childcare centre will also have an accident book recording all accidents - take a look at this too it will show you how often children hurt themselves.
If they don't have one then it's just another corner being cut.
All of this of course costs money to keep up to date - our basic extinguisher check costs us 180€ each year and the building inspector is around the same - plus any work that then needs to be done to conform you can quickly spend 1000€!.
If your club is cutting corners on these basic requirements, you may want to look closer at their operation:
- do they have the correct insurance and are they happy to share it with you?
- are they officially employing their staff with contracts/ through invoices or have they gone the cash in hand route thus invalidating their insurance. This also may mean that the background checks are not full and complete.
- Have they taken full details from you in the event of an accident, their are very specific requirements in childcare.
Of course we mustn't worry too much and it is an unlikely to go seriously wrong - but are you willing to take that risk?