Before you set up a day care programme, certain requirements for its successful operation must be established. These include:

  • A knowledge of what a day care centre can do to help the development of the children who will attend it.

  • An understanding of the needs of parents in your particular community for this kind of supplemental child care and of the needs of their children.

  • A clearly formulated and agreed-upon statement of purpose.

  • A realistic estimate of all expenses necessary for operating the programme according to standards that will assure good care for the children.

  • An assured source of funds to equal the estimated expenses.

  • A knowledge of the legal requirements for operating a day care centre in your community.

  • An administrative body. This may be a department of a public or private agency, an incorporated board of directors, or an individual. The administrative body has the responsibility for financing, for establishing operating policies, for efficient disbursement of funds, and for maintenance of good standards of care.

  • Policies for admission of children

  • Policies for employment of staff.

  • A building (or part of a building) that is safe and has adjacent outdoor play space and sufficient space for classrooms, a kitchen, food storage, toilet and hand-washing facilities, offices, storage of supplies and first-aid equipment.

  • Equipment suitable for a day care centre - such items as small tables and chairs, kitchen and toilet room furnishings and installations, office furnishings, cots or mats for resting, educational toys and materials, and outdoor playground apparatus.

  • A programme for the whole child - one that uses knowledge from the disciplines of education, health, social work, psychology, and psychiatry, to provide an experience suitable to the age of the child and to his individual needs.

  • A staff professionally qualified to plan and carry out such an integrated programme.

  • Contacts with other community agencies and institutions to which families can be referred for services not supplied by the day care centre, from which consultation services can be obtained as needed and with which there can be community planning for children and parents.

All of these factors are indispensable to the operation of a programme that really serves children and their families well. If you are about to start a day care centre, do not begin unless you have the assurance that you can fulfill each of the requirements listed above. If you are already operating a day care centre, you are not serving the children well unless all of these requirements are met.