Beginning your Search and Making your Selection
Begin your search using the National Register of ECE Services. Type the name of your city into the SEARCH. You can search within different categories of services (such as homebased, language nests, and Playcentre). You can click on the Extended Search button to search by other criteria such as for a private or community service, and number of children. You may have noticed signs for services in your local area – look the name of these up in the Register too.
Prepare a list of the names and addresses of services that interest you. The best services are usually staffed above minimum adult:child ratio requirements for child supervision, so there will almost certainly always be someone who is available to show you around, even if you arrive without an appointment.
Try to visit at least four ECE services with your child so you have a basis for comparison. On the next page is the My ECE Checklist to complete when visiting services. If someone is not available to show you around, still record your impressions using the Checklist. These first impressions are what you saw and felt before the service knew you were visiting and had time to prepare or put on a show.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions - you are the one who is choosing the service and not the other way around. You might decide you don’t like a service and leave after a quick tour. Or, you may get positive vibes and stay longer to give your child some time to play and for you to observe and find out more.
Importantly, you should also consider who you are leaving your child with. In centres this includes the service managers and teaching staff, cooks, and admin staff if they have contact with children. In home-based services this includes the educator along with everyone who lives in the same household, and the visiting teacher or co-ordinator who is assigned by the service to oversee the educator. You should meet the van driver/s if the service provides a pick-up and drop-off service. Does each person have the personal characteristics and personality that you think will be good to have around your child?
Note that the service is responsible for ensuring that background checks, including police checks, are done. It is mandatory for all staff and volunteers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 but not against other transmissible vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough. You have a right to ask about vaccination status but workers also have a right not to disclose should they choose not to.
If you don’t find a suitable service after visiting four, extend your search and consider other options.
Before you decide which service to enrol at, you might find it helpful to talk through your thoughts, feelings, and findings with someone else such as a friend or work colleague.