The Childcare Location Trap
When looking for childcare there are a lot of considerations that parents weigh up in deciding on a centre. Some of these include
- Does the centre feel right to you?
- Are the fees reasonable?
- Did you warm to the Centre Manager and educators?
- Does the centre have large and natural outdoor areas?
- Is the location of the centre convenient?
Assuming you are happy with all of the above, let’s dig a little deeper into location. You think this centre ticks your location box, but here’s the thing, does it? By asking yourself a few additional questions you can avoid what we call the “location trap”.
What is around the centre?
Take a very close look. I have seen some shocking locations for childcare centres and it amazes me that councils even approved the development applications. For example, we know of a centre located right next to petrol station (We're talking meters away from fuel bowsers and tanker filling points), we know of a centre located adjacent to high voltage power lines, and one with its back fence on a 4 lane 80km/h busy road with only a footpath and picket fence separating the playing children from large trucks barrelling down the road. Very scary!
Can I get in and out?
Imagine you are in a rush and dropping or picking up your child at the centre during peak hour. Can you get in and out of the centre easily? Many centres have their exits located on busy main roads. This looks convenient on the surface but it can be very difficult to exit safely. Some are even located on roads with divided lanes so there is a chance that you want to turn right out of the centre for example, but cannot because there is a concrete curb preventing you from doing so.
Is there adequate parking?
Again, it amazes us that councils have allowed inadequate parking but it does happen. Imagine pick up or drop off at peak hour with another 10 parents doing this at the same time. Can the centre parking handle it? Can you?
Getting back to nature.
It is very important that a child has access to natural environments. Not only will it help with their development through exploration and discovery, but it will create an ongoing appreciation for quiet green places. Many centres have little to no natural environments because of their location. Take a close look. Are there trees, is there grass, do the children have access to water, mud, leaves, sticks and branches? Alternatively, are the yards artificial turf, the plants are limited to pots, and no dirt in sight?
So, when considering location as it relates to a childcare centre, think past convenience alone and avoid the location trap.