Daycare at the office – how to organise it

19 March 2014

Most working moms have to live with guilt feelings when they return to work after the birth of their baby. But what if your workplace provides a daycare centre and you can pop in during the day to see if baby is happy? We look at how you can start a daycare centre at work.

For many moms the ideal is to have a daycare centre for your baby and/or toddler on the same premises as your office. This would enable you to check on the wellbeing of your child. You could pop in to make sure everything is going smoothly and you could even continue breast-feeding when you return to work after the birth of your baby.

Old Mutual’s Greens’cool is an ideal example of a work-based daycare centre. Parents drop off their children at the school before heading to their offices. If something goes wrong during the day, for instance if a child develops a fever, the parent is on hand to deal with it.

“The crèche was established to provide employees with an onsite facility for their preschool kids during office hours,” Old Mutual’s facilities manager Mughtar Parker says. “The decision was supported by the business in order to support the employee value proposition.”

Parker adds that the school had to follow several legal procedures before it could open. Old Mutual also insisted it comply with certain requirements such as a curriculum that went to Grade R, excellent qualified teachers, the Western Cape’s department of education standards and a green environmental approach. The crèche accommodates 300 children aged six months to six years.

Parker says Old Mutual’s advice to other companies or parents who want to introduce a similar initiative in the workplace is to work with employees to understand their needs.

Guidelines for establishing a daycare centre at work or your home

There are several government departments involved in the certification of a daycare centre or crèche. If you want to put forward a proposal to your employer you’d be wise to first find out more about these procedures. Miranda van Zyl, who runs a daycare centre for 24 children at her house in Kenridge, Cape Town, says the certification process took her about 16 months to finalise.

“It can take from three to 18 months to have a daycare centre registered. If you’re caring for six or less children you don’t have to register but if you intend looking after more children you’ll have to follow the correct procedures,” she says.

Van Zyl says the government departments that are involved in the registration process are the departments of health, social development and education, the latter especially if you intend making provision for Grade R or preparation for Grade R.

“The department of health does inspections before and after the school’s registration to ensure everything is in order. We see them about two to three times a year. You have to submit a plan for procedures you would follow in the event of a fire at the school plus a plan for other emergencies. They have become very strict about this over the past few years so as to ensure the children’s safety.”

The department of social development also conducts an inspection.

Van Zyl says her first port of call for her application was her local municipality where she got all the forms. Municipalities also often have the contact details of the relevant government departments.

“I like doing things by the book so didn’t take in more than six children until the registration had been finalised. If you don’t follow the rules your school could be closed down before it’s actually up and running.”

Keep the following in mind

If you intend putting forward a proposal for a crèche at your workplace make sure you have as much information as possible available about the regulations and requirements. If possible also compile a draft budget, including what employees should be paid a month, the cost of upgrading the premises and where the crèche would be situated on the premises, or elsewhere.

  • Try to find out how many children will attend the school.
  • Decide for what age group the school will cater.
  • The location of the company will determine if the premises are suitable for children. The company may      have to rent premises that are more suitable for housing a school.
  • Regulations about the number of children permitted, the number of children per teacher and the zoning of the area where the school is located may vary from one province to the next. Contact your local government branch for details.
  • If your company or the daycare centre is in a residential area you must first get consent from everyone      in the street or the block to open a school.

Go to the Old Mutual Greens’cool website for more info or ask your local municipal office for more details.

-Dalena Theron

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