What are the rules and regulations?
Childcare is a very sensitive issue. So the amount of red tape covering this area should not come as a surprise. The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) has taken over the regulation of nurseries recently so when buying it's important to check to see that the nursery has already been checked and approved by OFSTED.
One way of doing this is by an inspection and accreditation. In September 2001 the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) Early Years Directorate became responsible for the regulation and inspection of providers of day care for under eights. For more information about registering with Ofsted then go to the Ofsted website www.ofsted.gov.uk. Alternatively you can call the helpline on 0870 7700449
The main framework for nursery buildings is set out in the Children's Act 2004 but there is some discretion in implementing the rules. However, there are some rules that must be followed - including the space and staffing that you must have for each child. The regulations are most intensive for babies where you must allow 40 square feet each and one staff to three babies. For children aged two to three years, the space requirement is 30 square feet and one nursery nurse to four children. You only need to allow 25 square feet and one nursery nurse to eight children for the over three's.
At least 50% of your staff need to have a relevant qualification in childcare. But the difference in salaries for qualified and unqualified staff is small - in fact, as little as only £500 a year.
An officer in charge of a nursery has to have the relevant qualifications and several years work experience. But don't worry if you're not qualified, you can employ someone else for that role.
One of the biggest staffing problems is having sufficient relief staff to cover holidays or illness. Even in an emergency, all staff must be approved by social services.
If you want to run the nursery as a hands off company it's still essential as with all other companies to keep in close contact with staff so they can let you know any problems. Thins includes buying and generally keeping up levels of communication. Managers should deal with the day to day concerns and you should deal with central issues such as purchasing and re-appraisal of equipment.