This is an excerpt from Recreation Facility Management 2nd Edition With HKPropel Access by Brent A. Beggs,Richard F. Mull,Mick Renneisen & Michael A. Mulvaney.
Child care is a core product extension created to provide the service of caring for children while adults use or work at a recreation facility. As a planned extension of the facility, it provides a supplemental service and, when possible, additional revenue. It is crucial that parents feel confident that their children will receive proper care. Child care operations often do more than watch children; they also provide activities that are designed to enhance the children’s development and experience.
The child care industry is extensive. For some, it is a professional career that can be managed within an existing facility, or it can be independently delivered as a separate operation.
Child Care Age Levels
Overseeing the child’s safety and well-being is a primary responsibility that requires constant attention. Recreation facilities that have this option may be more attractive to parents with young children. Recreation facility managers must realize to what extent a facility may need to provide such a service. Child care options can be grouped into three age levels: infant, preschool, and school age.
Infant The infant level includes children from birth to age 3. Many factors make this age group challenging for child care staff. First, they are tasked with easing the anxiety of parents who are concerned about leaving infants in the care of others. In addition, the ratio of staff members to children may be regulated by local ordinances. Management must be meticulous in fulfilling the various child care requirements and responsibilities. Each infant’s schedule and care should be designed on an individual basis, and care of this nature is usually provided for a large portion of the day. Caring for infants requires strict regulations and caution for the child’s health and safety at all times; in short, it can be demanding work.
Preschool A preschool operation provides care for children from 3 to 5 years old. Preschool care exists in both public and private organizations that need to extend services to employees and users of the facility. This type of care usually parallels the daily schedule and annual calendar of the local schools. Similar to infant care, the organization must comply with many rules and regulations, which are available from the individual U.S. state’s regulatory agency, such as a Department (or Division) of Children and Family Services (DCFS). If the preschool operation is not run properly and according to guidelines, it will affect the facility’s public image.
School Age School-age care centers typically provide after-school care for children and early adolescents from 6 to 14 years old. Children in this age group have more flexibility and opportunity to participate in programs offered, so staff-to-child ratios decrease. Therefore, supervision becomes more challenging for staff. For this age level, managers should focus on providing recreational and educational activities that are designed to stimulate the children’s physical, mental, social, and emotional growth. This focus should include providing quality supervision, nutrition, and programs in a safe environment. Managers should consider arrangements for parents’ drop-off and pickup areas and children’s activity areas. School-age child care should be directly related to local grade school schedules. State rules and regulations are in place for licensed school-age child care as well.