The Early Childhood Devel-opment Unit (ECDU) established more than three years ago has made significant strides in ensuring that childcare centres improve the safety and delivery of service to the nation’s children. As Childcare Protection Week unfolds, parents can be comforted to know that day and night care centres for their children are being monitored and guided in acquiring the standard for registration and licensing required by law through the diligent work of the Early Childhood Development Unit (ECDU) within the Childcare Protection Agency.
This unit came into being in 2014 but the regulations which govern it were laid in the National Assembly in 2016 and enacted on May 4, 2016. The strict guidelines in fulfilling the unit’s mandate are covered under the Protection of Children Act (2009), the Childcare Development Services Act (2011) and other laws to ensure the safety of children in care facilities.
Administrative Manager of the ECDU has explained that these regulations simply mean that all childcare facilities (Day and Night Care Centres) whether operated out of a home or otherwise must meet the minimum standard required by law to be in operation. To use Executive Officer Lavern Thorne’s words, a licensed facility means big business, and that’s what the agency is about: keeping the nation’s children safe while ensuring facilities adhere to the laws which govern them.
However, as the unit recounts its successes, the journey to bring facilities up to standard has not been smooth sailing. Licence and Registration Officer, Simone Blair has recounted one of her experiences: “There was one day care centre that had to change location due to the dilapidated state of the building. To get them to do that was a task, but with constant visits to the facility, they relocated, this time to a less than desirable environment. The building was good but the area had stagnant water, swampy areas, and the smell of sewage. This was not a healthy environment for children. So we had to work with this facility to bring it up to standard and we were determined to help them pass the building and public health assessment by the municipality. We worked with them. Soon after, they drained the stagnant water; sand filled the swampy area and they fixed the sewerage system. It took great effort to help them see the need for investing in the upgrade. However they did it, and we provided the training for the caregivers and the creation of a teaching curriculum. To date we have a great working relationship with this facility and now this facility is registered and licensed.”
The caregivers in that facility are empowered and are now pursuing improvements in their child care training at reputable institutions.
To date the ECDU has identified 319 childcare facilities countrywide, has registered 252 and licensed 52. As the unit concludes its third year of existence, bringing every childcare facility to the minimum standard required by law is high on their agenda.
Concheeta Gray has summed it up as follows: “I want the facilities to know when we visit them, we are not there to close them down providing that the facility doesn’t form an immediate detriment to the children; we are there to help them improve their business with our priority of protecting the children. I also want to encourage parents to choose facilities not just out of convenience but one that is best suited for their children’s health and safety. So the next time parents go to a day or night care centre, they should find out if that facility is licensed”.
Child Protection Week