SAFETY FIRST

Tips to pick the right day­care

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

Life in the cities is everde­mand­ing in terms of time and costs. Frag­men­ta­tion of joint fam­i­lies into nu­clear ones; peo­ple mov­ing to big­ger cities for bet­ter prospects; and sin­gle par­ent­ing has be­come the norm

of the day. In or­der to pur­sue a good qual­ity of life, there are many fam­i­lies that have both the spouses or sin­gle par­ents work­ing through the bet­ter part of the day. The per­sonal and emo­tional de­ci­sion of bear­ing a child in this sit­u­a­tion changes

the dy­nam­ics to a whole new di­men­sion. As the child starts grow­ing, so does the need for mak­ing her more so­cially adapt­able. To this end, many par­ents search out fa­cil­i­ties which give a com­fort­able, se­cure

and con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for their child to grow in. Sub­con­sciously, they are look­ing for a home away from home where the child eats, sleeps, plays and learns while they at­tend to the de­mands of their jobs.

Day care cen­tres and preschools have un­der­stood this need, and hence, there is a sud­den spurt of such fa­cil­i­ties—be it fran­chises or stand­alone—across tier I and II cities. While the tech­ni­cal pa­ram­e­ters for them giv­ing out fran­chises dif­fer from busi­ness to busi­ness and is sub­ject to in­ter­pre­ta­tion, se­cu­rity is an im­por­tant is­sue which is ei­ther over­looked or taken ca­su­ally by a ma­jor­ity of both these types of es­tab­lish­ments. This fac­tor is some­times over­looked by par­ents in the haste to get their child into the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem as early as pos­si­ble. Af­ter all, who does not want some breath­ing space in this fast-paced life? Se­cu­rity, to this end, takes a back­seat and sadly, some­times, be­comes the sole point that en­dan­gers their child, bring­ing about im­mense tur­moil when the child falls prey to the crime.

Par­ents need to fac­tor in se­cu­rity as one of the ma­jor con­cerns when choos­ing a day­care or preschool. To this end there are cer­tain point­ers that they should keep in mind while se­lect­ing these fa­cil­i­ties:

Lo­ca­tion: The fa­cil­ity should not be di­rectly on a busy main road, nor should it should be tucked away into a small cor­ner of an iso­lated lane. Both have their de­mer­its in terms of the child be­ing ex­posed to surveil­lance by crim­i­nal el­e­ments in the first in­stance, and the child be­ing to­tally iso­lated from the out­side world in the sec­ond.

Frontage: The frontage of the es­tab­lish­ment should have a perime­ter wall which does not al­low out­siders to have a ca­sual glance in­side while strolling by it.

If the fa­cil­ity is not de­mar­cated by a wall, it should have an open space which clearly de­fines the pub­lic space from that the es­tab­lish­ment premises, which is ex­clu­sively un­der the surveil­lance of the es­tab­lish­ment staff and se­cu­rity.

Lay­out: The lay­out of the fa­cil­ity or es­tab­lish­ment should be such that it fa­cil­i­tates straight lines of sight wher­ever pos­si­ble. It should not have any sharp bends in the hall­ways, con­stricted spaces of move­ment, or hid­den spaces and cor­ners which can be missed dur­ing a ca­sual glance or stroll around the premises.

En­try and exit: This is tricky part as en­try and exit points need to have the right bal­ance of vis­i­bil­ity and pri­vacy. Tucked­away en­try and exit points serve as vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas as they may fa­cil­i­tate hid­ing spots for crim­i­nals around the place, or

be­come ideal bot­tle­necks for the ab­duc­tion of a tar­geted child. En­try and exit points should be both vis­i­ble to the staff of these es­tab­lish­ments as well as the par­ents, and should en­sure con­trolled move­ment of the chil­dren from the drop-off point to the en­try point of the fa­cil­ity. There should not be more than one en­try and exit point and route to the same es­tab­lish­ment.

Win­dows: The fa­cil­ity should not sport long win­dows with clear glass panes which al­low out­siders to look in­side eas­ily. The win­dows should be in­side-open­ing, se­cured with strong latches and bolts with strong me­tal­lic frames rather than stylish mod­u­lar frames, that can be pried open or loos­ened from the out­side. The glass panes should be tough­ened glass which can be frosted, smoked or lam­i­nated fully or to a height which al­lows the staff to see out­side but pre­vents out­siders from peek­ing in­side. Doors: The main en­trance door of the fa­cil­ity should be strong and heavy, suit­ably made of in­dus­trial grade wood or metal. This al­lows only adults to open the door, and dis­ables the noise of chil­dren from get­ting out of the premises. The use of glass on these doors also should be re­stricted so as to dis­al­low an out­sider to have full view of the in­te­ri­ors. Light­ing: The es­tab­lish­ment should be fit­ted out with flu­o­res­cent lights or LED white lights, that not only pro­vide bright il­lu­mi­na­tion within the rooms, but also negate long shad­ows and dark cor­ners that al­low a per­son to stay un­ob­served to a large ex­tent. These are ev­ery­day parame­tres that we take for granted. A lit­tle scru­tiny from par­ents goes a long way to en­sure that their child is safe within the en­vi­rons of their se­lected es­tab­lish­ment, and gives them the much-needed men­tal peace know­ing that their child is in safe hands of their ap­pointed care-tak­ers.

Lt. Colonel Omar S Pathare (Retd.) is a cer­ti­fied se­cu­rity man­age­ment pro­fes­sional® (UK) and life mem­ber of In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity Man­age­ment In­sti­tute® (UK). He is a se­cu­rity con­sul­tant and founder of ‘FOR­TIFY®’, that pro­vides proac­tive so­lu­tions and cus­tomised se­cu­ri­ty­man­age­ment plans. Web­site: www.for­ti­fyin­dia.com

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