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Arranging Childcare for Non-Profit Events

Q:  When arranging for child care for a potentially large number of kids, what is a good ratio of children-to-caregiver to keep in mind/aim for?

A:  The ideal ratio of children to caregivers depends on the age of the children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association advise the follow ratios:  3:1 for children from birth to 12 months, 4:1 for children from 13 to 30 months, 5:1 for children from 31 to 35 months, 7:1 for 3-year-olds, and 8:1 for 4-year-olds.

Q:  Are there age minimums/maximums that you think are best enforced when arranging this sort of group childcare, as far as the ages of the children you’re willing to look after? 

A:  Age minimums and maximums are best determined with children to caregiver ratios in mind.  A large group childcare arrangement can handle a wider variety of ages if a greater number of caregivers are present.   Current thinking indicates that if children ages six weeks to 12 years are present, the general children to caregiver ratio should be 3:1.  (Note: children younger than six weeks are typically deemed unsuited for group childcare settings, and children older than 12 years are generally deemed mature enough that they no longer need to be in childcare.)  If the age minimums and maximums are more narrow, a general children to caregiver ratio of perhaps 5:1 may be acceptable.

Q:  What supplies/necessities should the non-profit provide in a childcare area?

A:  Supplies/necessities include:  nutritious food, water, baby formula, baby food, bottles, non-spill cups, unbreakable table settings, diapers, diaper wipes, plenty of paper goods (paper towels, napkins, etc.), cleaning materials, toys, balls, games, books, coloring books, crayons, dolls, outdoor play places (i.e., a playground, fenced yard, or other outdoor space that is safe for children), blankets, pillows, first aid supplies, etc.

Q:  Should children who are being cared for be in some ways divided up by age groups? If so, in what ways will this make managing child care easier? Or can a big group with lots of mixed ages work as well? 

A:  Children in a large group childcare context should generally be divided into age groupings.   This is due to a variety of reasons; one of the most important reasons is that the needs and interests of a six month old will vary widely from the needs and interests of a 10 year old.  Combining diverse age groups into one large composite can work, but typically  is recommended only for short periods of time. 

Q:  What steps can the non-profit take in advance, as well as on site, that will reassure volunteering parents that their children are in good hands?

A:  Non-profits should have licensing information clearly visible to all adults entering the premises.  The premises should be clean, organized, and well maintained.  The caregivers should be appropriately dressed and presenting in a nurturing manner.   Supplies/necessities should be clearly visible or in clearly marked storage containers.  Information about the non-profit, its mission and history, its staff, its contact information, and other relevant information should be available in advance as well as on site.   Additionally, a list of references (i.e., parents who have satisfactorily used this non-profit’s services) should be available in advanced as well as on site.  (Note:  as much information as possible should be distributed in advance.)

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