Local bodies clueless about the number of day care centres and their conditions

Creches are popping up in the city amid fears that there are few legal provisions to monitor and regulate their functioning.

Creches are god-sent for parents who are working full time and have no family to entrust their kid with. But parents are also worried whether these centres are run professionally and whether they meet the safety and health requirements.

Ask the local bodies and they have little idea about the number of licensed day-care centres in Ernakulam. The Kochi corporation and the municipalities in the district are clueless on the conditions under which these day-care centres operate.

A senior official of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) under the Department of Social Welfare here agreed that child day-care centres have mushroomed as local bodies provide licence to all applicants without checking their credentials and experience to run such specialised centres.

Health Inspectors affiliated to the local bodies must visit these day-care centres every month but there is little compliance. Officials of ICDS said the situation in about 2,850 anganwadis in Ernakulam was better compared to some of the private crèches that are unhygienic.

Even though local bodies do not have any special norms, the crèches are supposed to maintain the correct space ration besides having adequate play and study area for children. Care must also be taken to provide clean and tidy floors and toilets. The child day-care centres should also earmark proper area for feeding children. Fire and safety precautions must also be ensured to meet any emergency.

Senior paediatrician Dr. S. Sachidananda Kamath said it was the joint responsibility of the parents and the management of the day care centres to ensure proper child care in crèches. It should not end up as places spreading ill-health, he said. “Regular cleaning of the study and play area and toilets is compulsory. Proper hand wash is a must for both children and the day care staff to check the spread of diseases. Steps should also be taken to ensure that the management and employees of day care centres are professionally trained in basic health, hygiene and child development,” he said.

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