There is a surge in the percentage of mothers of infants in the labour force. Some mothers who are self-employed still find it challenging balancing work and child care especially where there are official meetings or events to attend. It was quite different in times past where mothers in labour force could mandate a sibling or relative to come live with them and assist in childcare.
What happens when such is not available? It is very vital that parents/caregivers trust the hands they entrust their infants with hence, the law makes provision to ensure that child care in whatever form is adequate and well regulated. Child care transcends the physical wellbeing of a child; it extends to the mental, cognitive and psychological wellbeing of the child
WHO ARE CHILD MINDERS?
Child minders are professional caregivers who look after children in their home usually while the parents are at work for a reward. They have a time limit and the number of children they watch. Child minders work from theirdomestic premises, they look after up to five (5) children or as stipulated by the state law and children are usually under age six (6). The maximum number of children or maximum number of children within specified age group whom a child minder may look after in Nigeria is five (5). This is provided for in [S.164 (2a)] Child’s Right Act 2003.
WHAT IS DAYCARE?
A daycare refers to care provided for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school aged children either in their homes, in the home of a relative or caregiver, or in a Centre-based facility. The Centre-based facility is very common in Nigeria; it has a structured program for children. Centre-based care is also referred to as Daycare Centre, Nursery Schools or Preschool. This particular kind unlike others, care for large number of children in groups and most parents will opt for it because of the presence of multiple caregivers and the structured program it offers to children.
HOW DO I DIFFERENTIATE CHILDMINDERS, DAYCARE AND NANNIES?
A CHILD MINDER takes care of children in domestic premises usually the home of the child minder, and children in smaller numbers. They work for specific number of hours and specific number of children. The maximum number as required by law in Nigeria is five (5) children or five children within a specified age group.
DAYCARE generally means care offered to infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged children either in their home (nanny), home of relative or caregiver (kin care) or in a Centre-based facility (day care Centre). The Centre Based Care could be a Daycare Centre, Nursery, or Preschool which has a structured program for children. It can accommodate many children but there are a specific number of children for specified age groups.
NANNIES are not child minders. [S. 163(5) Child Rights Act], they are babysitters who care for children specifically in the homes of the employer and such children are not allowed to mix with other children unless with the permission of their parents. They see to the wellbeing of the child whether parents are at work or at home. It can be full time or part time. Their responsibility is wide in scope because it ranges from preparing meals, laundry, homework and every other chore for the wellbeing of the child. The care continues even when a child is ill, parents can properly monitor their children as it is flexible.
ARE THERE LAWS GOVERNING CHILDMINDERS AND DAYCARE?
Yes there are laws governing Child Minders and Daycare Centers in Nigeria.
Convention on the Rights of a Child (1989)
Child’s Rights Act 2003
Child’s Rights Laws of various states
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL REQUIREMENT FOR CHILD MINDERS AND DAYCARE?
There are legal requirement as regards the premises, time duration, number of children, qualification and registration of child minders and daycare. For the purposes of this article, we shall be looking at the Child’s Rights Law of Lagos State, 2017.
AGE: The age requirement is for children under the age of six (6). S. 152(2)CRL
TIME: The period or total periods spent in looking after the children must exceed two hours a day.
LOCATION: The premises must be suitable and adequate for children under the ages of six (6). S. 152 (12) CRL
Specifically for Daycare, the premises must be a place other than domestic premises within the state. S. 152 (1b) CRL. This is one major difference between Daycare and Child minders
REGISTRATION: S. 153&154 CRL provides for registration as follows;
The state shall specify the maximum number of children or the maximum number of children within specified age groups to be looked after. Please note that this is to ensure the children are properly catered for and maximum number should not exceed six or seven within an age group.
That the premises and the equipment used are adequately safe and maintained
That a register be kept as regards record of the child and the staff.
Where there are changes as to names and addresses of children, staff, notification must be given to the state.
Inspection of premises may be done by authorized officers of the state to inspect the premises and see whether there is compliance as to guidelines.
A parent, relative, foster parent is not a child minder
A nanny is not a child minder s. 152(4&5)
WHAT WILL WARRANT THE CANCELLATION OF REGISTRATION?
Registration may be cancelled where there is a violation of legal provision or the premises is seriously inadequate for the needs of the child. S. 155 CRL
WHAT SHOULD PARENTS/CAREGIVERS LOOK OUT FOR WHEN CHOOSING A DAYCARE?
Well trained caregivers and professionals
Adequate environment with sufficient equipment
Adequate supervision and regulation
Exposure of children to games, songs and necessary activities for their cognitive development.
Parents are welcomed and are encouraged to make recommendations where necessary.
The law seeks to safeguard the best interest of the child hence there is need to regulate activities of those involve in offering childcare services.
Success Oghosa Osasogie is a Lagos based Legal Practitioner and a professional volunteer.
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