It is very difficult, we understand!
For many parents, finding the right childcare centre stirs up a range of emotions. After all, you are leaving the most precious person in your life in the hands of a stranger. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Childcare can be a special place that nurtures and enhances the development of children. It can be an environment for learning, development and growth through play and socialisation with others. A home away from home, so picking the right childcare service forms an important part of parents’ lives.
Why childcare, in the first place?
Answering this question will help guide you to the right type of service. For example, if you are looking for someone to look after your child for an hour or two whilst you run errands, our childcare may not be the most appropriate service. Family, friends or a babysitter may be the best option. On the other hand, if you are looking to provide early education for your kids, then our childcare may be a better option.
Is there a waiting list?
We highly recommend registering your details with your preferred childcare centre at least 3 months in advance.
Is there a registration fee and is it refundable?
We have a registration charge for administration. This fee is not refundable if you enrol your child or cancel the registration.
What are the costs?
Childcare is free. If both parents (or one parent, in case of single parents) are working or studying, then your family is eligible to apply for the Free Childcare Scheme. You apply for the Scheme from our childcare centre. A copy of the application form is available in the Downloads section of our website.
Should you want to have more care hours, more than those you are eligible for, there is the option of extra hours which do come at a cost. The centre manager will guide you accordingly.
For our Kindergarten, there is a fee that is paid per term. Three terms per scholastic year. The fee is all inclusive. That means that, apart from the one-per-term outing, we do not ask families for any other money for any activities, supplies, parties or sessions.
How about flexibility?
We understand that as busy parents, flexibility is key. Our childcare centres allow total flexibility with the days of care that you have booked for your child. Giving us a week’s notice, you can change your days/hours. Just inform our centre manager of your flexibility requirements.
Can I try it out for some hours first?
In coordination with the centre manager, we usually offer our childcare services for some weeks initially. Please understand that children need a transition period to settle in and thus taking time is crucial in getting accustomed to the centre environment.
How will my child react?
The transition from home to the childcare centre is tailored according to the child’s needs. It is recommended that families should visit the childcare centre together with the child once before the child starts attending. It is also recommended that, if possible, you start leaving your child for a short period of time and then gradually increase it to the full care you might need. Parents are also welcome to stay for some time at the centre with the child as agreed with our centre manager/room coordinator at the initial stages of settling in.
For some children (and families) this may be the first experience of childcare away from home. We understand that this may be distressing and it is normal for most families to feel apprehensive when they are to give up their precious little ones to strangers for the first time. It is also normal for children to cry and clutch at their parent/guardian as they are leaving. Children usually adjust very rapidly in the environment that we have set up in our Centre. If, in the rare occasion, the child continues to cry incessantly, we will contact the family to inform of the issue.
The National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities stipulate that childcare services must be registered. All our services are licenced and registered. You can check if the centre is registered on the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) website.
How many children in your centre?
The National Standards stipulates certain requirements for centres depending on the area of the centre. However, as a parent, we understand that you need to feel comfortable with the type and level of care that will be provided. We strongly recommend to come and check our centres out. See how you feel and how your child adapts to the surrounds. Most of the times, your child or even yourself will get a vibe that will tell you if they’re comfortable there or not.
It may seem like it’s simple and straightforward, but cleanliness can play an important part in choosing the right childcare centre. How does the childcare centre present? Is it clean and fresh or dirty, tired and run down? What are the hygiene procedures like? Are the staff nicely groomed and well presented?
Childcare is meant to be a place of happiness and joy whilst creating a learning environment to nurture and develop our children. What’s the vibe like in the childcare centre? Do the kids seem happy? How do they interact with other children and staff? Do you get a good feeling from the centre and does it feel inviting?
The required number of staff that care for children is governed by the National Standards. Our childcare centres go above and beyond the minimum requirements not only in staff ratios, but also the level of qualifications held by each carer, so it’s worthwhile discussing this with our centre manager.
What food do I provide for my child?
Milk bottle feeds that are already made up and brought to the centre on a daily basis, should be labelled with the child’s name and date of preparation. Same goes for expressed (breast) milk. Alternatively, you can provide us with a thermos with hot water and a container with the needed milk powder. A separate bottle of water should always be brought in, apart from the milk.
Please ensure that all food sent in for your child is nutritious and as fresh as possible. An excessive intake of sugar and salt is harmful. We strive to promote healthy eating amongst our kids, therefore sweets, sponge cakes, chocolate cereal bars, sausages, crisps and other unhealthy food are not allowed at our Childcare Centres.
Please also refrain from sending nuts as these are the frequent causes of allergies apart from being a choking hazard in most cases. We ask for your help in minimising life threatening risks to our children by avoiding giving them any type of nuts, peanut butter or other spreads containing nuts such as Nutella in lunches. It is also important that you help us in reminding our kids not to share their lunches. Drinks should ideally be milk or water.
Children who come before 08:30 are welcome to bring in a yoghurt or some other breakfast food. All children sit down for a mid-morning snack at around 10:30 and this should see them through till 13:00. Ideal foods for our 10:30 snack are: sandwiches, fruit (diced or sliced), dry cereal, dried fruit, chopped vegetables, yogurt etc. Children who leave by 13:00 should ideally have their lunchtime meal at home. Those who stay later than 13:00 should also have a lunch which we will willingly warm, if necessary.
How many nappies should I send?
Kindly send in an adequate amount of nappies on a daily basis. Also please include a supply of whatever you normally use when changing your baby’s soiled nappy (wipes, cream etc.). Alternatively, you may provide a full pack of nappies and wipes to be left at the Centre, labelled with the child’s name and our carers will notify you when the supply gets short.
What other stuff do I need to send?
- An old t-shirt (an old one of yours or of an older sibling would be ideal) or an apron to be used during messy activities like cooking and art.
- A small sheet and blanket for nap time.
- A spare set of clothing available. This will be kept at the centre. We will send this back for laundering when required.
- If a soother is really necessary, a spare one of the same type s/he uses to be kept here, just in case you forget it at home.
- All items including comforters (in Maltese, qlejba) should be clearly labelled with your child’s name.
What about footwear?
All footwear used by your child is comfortable and of the right size. Footwear must either be fastened with Velcro or else is of the slip-on kind. Lace-up footwear is not practical for young children and is to be avoided.
Only plain birthday cakes are allowed. Better still, individual cup-cakes.
Napping & sleeping
A child’s sleeping pattern is different from another and we observe these needs in consultation with the family. Your child’s sleeping patterns may vary due to the various activities and distractions. At no time will we force a child to sleep and at no time will we stop children from sleeping or force them to stay awake.
Jewellery and toys
Your child does not need to bring jewellery, toys or expensive items to the centre. Jewellery includes any type of ornamental items, including bracelets, necklaces and earrings (of any type) are not allowed at our centre.
Partnership with families
Families are always welcome in our Childcare centre and we operate on an ‘open door’ policy. All that we offer children at our childcare centres is only meaningful in the context of a healthy relationship between families and us. We encourage open and frequent dialogue and ensure that we address concerns as quickly and effectively as possible. We appreciate that parents are entrusting to us with their precious children and promise to treat them as our own. To emphasize, we believe that our childcare centre must be in partnership with families for a richer learning experience. Furthermore, from time to time, we organize activities in which parents are invited to participate.
It is helpful to us for families to give feedback on how their child is faring. This information helps us respond most effectively to the child’s individual needs and also improve our service. We always respond in the strictest of confidence over any personal information given by the family or child.
All children’s files and information compiled are confidential and will only be seen by us, the child’s family and relevant professionals. Information about the child’s day is shared daily with the child’s family by verbal report and any work that the child has done is shown to the parents if it is on display. We also track the child’s progress using a learning outcomes framework.
We are more than happy to collaborate with other professionals such as speech therapists, CDAU assessors, amongst others, should this be required in the interest of the child.
A communication book will be dedicated to your child. This includes a daily timed schedule of feeding, sleeping and changing times for your child and will be placed daily in the child’s bag. Our carers will use this to note down significant events of the day such that you may have a better picture of what your child was up to whilst in our care.
We also communicate with parents on a daily basis, using a password-secured online portal (web application) where descriptions, observations, photos and videos of their child are shared. The app also supports a daily timed schedule of feeding, sleeping, toileting and nappy changing times of the children.
Will my child be safe?
The setting and furnishings are informal, spacious and bright. Age-appropriate sanitary facilities are available. Toilet cubicles provide the required privacy and are non-locking for safety reasons. All glass on the premises is safe for children and will not shatter on impact. We have safety covers on power sockets and gates to prevent children leaving safe areas as well as door protectors at each useable door. Outside doors are kept locked at all times.
Our outside area has been designed to offer diverse opportunities to the children. The outdoor area is equipped with age-appropriate outdoor play equipment and serves as a paddling pool area in summer.
Do you keep pets?
Pets such as dwarf rabbits and birds which are sometimes kept at the Centre, will be carefully chosen according to their appropriateness for children from 0 to 3 years. Pets will be properly taken care of by the staff by giving them clean water and food and keeping their cages clean. No pets are allowed in any area where food is being prepared or served. When handling any pets, children are closely supervised. Children who are allergic to pets will not have access to them. Staff and Children will wash their hands after feeding the pets and after handling them and their cages.
What if my child is sick or has an accident?
We are required to consider the health and safety of all the children attending our Centre and therefore we must insist that you do not bring your child when sick.
If your child shows any sign of illness when she/he is at the centre then you will be contacted to arrange the pick-up of your child. If you cannot leave your place of work it may be sensible to arrange a back-up plan for somebody who would be able to collect the child should this occur. If we feel your child needs urgent medical attention/treatment, we will, of course, seek this on your behalf. It is of vital importance that you keep contact telephone numbers up to date so that we can contact you. If no one can be reached the responsibility of your child’s health will be assumed by the doctor.
In case of absence of 3 days or more due to sickness kindly bring a certificate stating that the child is fit to attend the centre again. In case of allergies, kindly obtain a doctor’s certificate to this effect.
Do you administer medicinals at the centre?
Although we do not generally administer any medicines, we understand that some children may suffer from chronic conditions such as asthma or allergies, which in circumstances, may necessitate the administration of medicinal treatment by our carers.
In such cases, parents must provide us with a doctor’s prescription which includes dosage and instructions of how to administer. We will ensure that proper training is given to our staff on the proper procedures for administration of said medicines.
Parents are to provide us with copy of the immunisation record of their child and must inform us when new inoculations are given. Should parents require further information, one may consult the National Immunisation Schedule as published by the authorities.
Kids coming to our Centre should feel that they are coming to have fun and learn in a safe and secure environment free from the threat of injury or harassment of any kind. Any actions harmful to any child will be dealt with in a prompt and appropriate manner. Kids are expected to behave properly and to respect the persons and property around them. We believe that children must gradually assume responsibility for their own behaviour and the consequences for their actions.
What is unacceptable behaviour?
Unacceptable behaviour is behaviour which:
- Is dangerous, hurtful or offensive to someone else – other children, adults or animals;
- Is dangerous to the child himself/herself;
- Will make the another child unwelcome or unacceptable to other people;
- Damages to property.
What is positive discipline?
Positive discipline is an effective way of setting limits for children:
- Rewarding good behaviour – rewards are constructive and encourage further effort. A kind word of praise is often sufficient reward.
- Setting realistic limits according to age and stage of development – because as children grow and develop, their understanding of the consequences of their behaviour increases and our expectations of them change.
- Setting a good example – because young children take more notice of how we behave and what we say, they also like to copy and repeat.
- Encouragement, not orders and instructions – because “Do as you’re told” and “Because I said so” teaches nothing for next time. Positive discipline means explaining why.
- Being consistent – saying no and meaning no – because children need to know where they stand and it helps if they know that we mean what we say.
- Building children’s self-esteem – shaming, scolding, hurting and humiliating children can lead to even worse behaviour. Attention, approval and praise can build self-esteem and a child who feels valued is more likely to behave well
- Children are explained the rules, so that they are familiar with the guidelines. We stress two main patterns of desired behaviour – respect for other people and respect for property.
However, there will be disagreements between children. Young children especially, who are not adept at communication; have a hard time expressing their feelings. Sometimes they hit, throw toys or bite because of their frustration not because of any desire to hurt anyone. When these situations occur the methods we use to manage unwanted behaviour are:
- Challenging it immediately
- Explaining why it is unacceptable in a way suitable to the child’s level of understanding
- Distracting the child
- Offering an alternative way of doing things
- Removing the child from the situation
- Using sanctions if necessary e.g., withholding treats or removing a toy for a short period
- Showing the harm they did to the other child
- Asking child to apologise for the harm
What is your discipline procedure?
If a discipline problem arises that does not respond to the above mentioned techniques, we will request a meeting with the parents/guardians and together we will try to find a solution. You may be called to remove your child if his/her behaviour prevents us from being able to properly care for the other children. If the problem continues, sadly other arrangements by the parents for the care of the child may have to be made, for the safety and well-being of all.
Methods we do not use to manage unwanted behaviour:
- Physical punishment including slapping, smacking, shaking
- Verbal abuse/name calling
- Frightening or humiliating the child
- Withholding food or drink or sleep.
We recognize the importance of a positive, consistent approach and of giving plenty of praise and encouragement.
What about biting?
It is quite distressing for any parent to learn that her/his child has been hurt in any way while away from home and biting is considered as an aggressive form of anti-social behaviour. All anti-social behaviour is addressed at our centres, with special emphasis on biting incidents which are not tolerated. Our carers provide an excellent standard of supervision, however, unfortunately some incidents of pinching, scratching, pushing, biting etc. do sometimes happen. Most of the time these incidents happen extremely quickly and are usually the result of a disagreement over a favourite toy between kids. For every unlucky incident the carers will have successfully averted numerous such potential incidents. The procedure followed depends and is taken on a case-by-case basis and always discussed internally within the team and with the family.
We are more than happy to collaborate with other professionals should this be required in the interest of the child.
Our Centre follows the child protection policies and procedures as established by the National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities and each member of our staff is bound to comply with these standards. Our staff who are trained to recognize signs of suspected abuse are bound to report any suspicions to the Administration, who in turn, is obliged to report said suspicions to the appropriate authorities after the investigation is undertaken in a confidential manner. Should staff feel that Administration has not taken heed of their reports in a correct manner they are duty bound to take any suitable measure to inform the competent authority directly (Agenzija Appogg Tel 2295 9000 or Freephone 179). Moreover we have strict controls on who has access to the childcare centre and whom we will allow a child to be collected by.
Child’s personal records
All childcare staff respect the confidentiality of parents and children. Only staff who work with the child will have access to the file with information about the child. When information regarding their child is shared with parents, it is done in a sensitive manner. Discussions about a child are not held in front of the child.
Who can collect my child
Details of persons authorised to collect your child are requested during registration. It is emphasised that such persons must be in possession of their ID card when collecting children. Under no circumstance will children be handed over to anyone who is not listed in the registration form and without an ID card. When in doubt we will call the parents who will be asked to verify any change in norm.
We are sure you will appreciate that these systems are in place for the safety of your child and we therefore kindly ask for your full cooperation in this matter. Although our staff will get used to you as time goes by, there may be circumstances when a different carer who might be new to you is here when you collect your child. This may happen if we have a reliever such as in case of sickness of our regular staff.
Obviously things can happen at the last minute which can cause delays; whenever possible please call let us know when you expect to arrive. If your child is not collected at the agreed time, we will of course continue to care for your child, however late fees may be applied.
Who are the carers?
Background checks and regular screening as required by law are done on all staff members for the safety of our kids. All staff are trained and qualified. Student and assistant carers are supervised constantly.
Vista Coop is an Equal Opportunity employer and always endeavors to find the best staff for the job of a childcarer. Vista Coop does not discriminate against any applicant on the basis of gender, race, colour, nationality, marital status, sexual orientation, parental status, religious or political beliefs. All employment policies, procedures and practices are developed and monitored with the equal opportunity concept in mind.
On-going training is given to our staff as staff development and keeping staff up-to-date. Training will cover personal characteristics, motivation process, expertise and motivation level. Training involves reviewing the role of the childcarers while identifying and discussing any difficulties or obstacles encountered by the childcarers. During training we plan for the future, agree specific objectives to achieve those plans, and plan the topics to be covered with the children in the following weeks through brainstorming sessions.
How do I complain?
We intend to provide the highest quality of care and education for your child. Any parent/guardian who feels uncomfortable about any aspect of the childcare centre should talk these anxieties over with the Administration of the centre. We believe any complaint can be made constructively and resolved at a very early stage. Issues underlying the complaint are identified, investigated and discussed, and eventually, action will be taken as required by the situation. The person making the complaint will be informed of what can or cannot be done. One can also forward their comments and issues to the Ministry of Education and Employment (MEDE) and to the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) on 2598 2311 or 2598 2505.
Vista Coop gives utmost importance to the issue of safeguarding our children from any kind of abuse in our centes. All reports by whistle-blowers are treated confidentially to the greatest extent possible. Any staff member who notices any form of abuse taking place, the staff member has the rightful duty to report such instances of any inappropriate behaviour to Child Safety Services on 2598 3440 or 2598 3473-9. Reports may be forwarded to the Ministry of Education and Employment (MEDE) and to the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE) on 2598 2311 or 2598 2505.