Class of 2016
4th March 2017
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5th March 2017

Opening a private preschool

Many unemployed women open childcare facilities in their backyards to create an income for themselves, but the majority of them are unqualified and don’t know they must register their centres. Deirdre Caulwell outlines the steps they should follow and the advantages of registration.

More than half of South Africa’s six million pre-school children are unable to benefit from a good early childhood development (ECD) programme. Could this be one of the reasons that so many of our children never excel at school and tertiary institutions?

Early stimulation

Between birth and four years of age, the brain’s rapid development makes it extremely receptive to the foundational learning upon which all future learning is built.  A lack of adequate nutrition and appropriate intellectual stimulation during these vulnerable years can cause children to suffer permanent physical and intellectual impairment.  They start school handicapped by learning delays that become compounded as they move through the system.

Childcare facilities

There are too few properly equipped facilities and trained practitioners in South Africa. To turn this situation around we all need to play our part and many South Africans, in particular women, are doing just that. They see an opportunity to help the families around them and create an income for themselves, and open pre-school facilities to take care of children who spend much of their time unattended. For those of you thinking of doing this, there are some things you need to know first.

Registration process

There are government regulations described in The Children’s Act of 2005 that require anyone caring for more than six children to register with the department of social development (DoSD). It is also important to visit the environmental health officer and town planning department at your local government offices before opening a crèche.

Legal requirements

The local DoSD is the best place to start. Here you can find out what the difference is between being a day mother and starting your own crèche. There are many more legal requirements for running a small crèche than there are for day mothers, who may look after up to six children at a time without being registered. If you are caring for more than six children, you are required to have operating certificates from the various government departments.

Benefits of registration

Once you have written approval from these authorities you may be eligible for the DoSD subsidy of R15 per day per child in your care. This can be used to provide nourishing meals and to subsidise the salaries of any staff you employ. Remember there are strict laws around how many children one adult is allowed to care for on their own. Being registered with DoSD may also put you in line for free capacity building programmes, and training for yourself and your staff on National Qualifications Framework level 4 programmes.

So all in all, opening your own ECD centre may not be as simple as it at first appears, but the government will support you all the way. There are also a number of nongovernmental organisations throughout the country that will help you through the process. Many offer knowledge and skills development courses that help you provide excellent stimulation programmes to prepare the children in your care for primary school. At the end of the day we all want to see the best for our children, and there’s no better place to start than with educating our toddlers correctly.

Deirdre Caulwell is the director of Asha Trust, a provider of ECD programmes for home-based crèches in disadvantaged communities


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