Minister On Child Care Regulation Programme

May 17, 2024 | 0 Comments

Minister of Health Kim Wilson provided an update on the Department of Health’s Child Care Regulation Programme in the House of Assembly today [May 17].

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to provide this House and the public with an update on the Department of Health’s Child Care Regulation Programme.

The first five years of life are the most critical periods in children’s brain development. As approximately 90% of Bermuda’s children are receiving day care within this period, the aim of the Child Care Regulations Programme is to ensure all children have access to happy, healthy, safe and developmentally appropriate care.

Child care refers to the care and supervision of children by someone other than their parents, either in the day care provider’s home or in a group setting. Child care is regulated and provided in two types of settings locally: as licenced Day Care Centres [DCC], which is the group setting, and as in-home care by registered Day Care Providers [DCP].

Child care in Bermuda, also known as day care, is primarily regulated by the Children Act 1998: This Act establishes the overall framework for child protection and well-being in Bermuda, including day care settings. The Day Care Centre Regulations 1999 outline the specific requirements for day care centres to obtain and maintain a license. They cover areas like staff qualifications, child-to-staff ratios, health and safety standards, and curriculum.

The Child Care Standards 2018 provide more detailed guidance on best practices for day care providers in areas like:

  • Health, safety, and supervision
  • Staff qualifications and training
  • Curriculum and developmentally appropriate activities

Mr. Speaker,

The Child Care Regulation Programme [CCRP] within the Department of Health is responsible for licensing and registering day care centres and providers and enforcing these regulations and standards.

Working parents need child care to look after their children while they provide for their families during the workweek. Child care provides socialization and educational benefits for children and quality child care can be a valuable and enriching experience at a crucial stage of physical, emotional and cognitive development.

Child Care Regulation is essential to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of children in care settings. It establishes and oversees compliance with minimum standards for child care such as:

  • Staff qualifications and training: Child care providers should have the knowledge and skills to care for children effectively.
  • Child-to-staff ratios: There must be enough qualified staff in a child care setting at all times to supervise children properly.
  • Health and safety standards: Child care settings should be safe and healthy for children.
  • Curriculum and activities: Child care programmes should provide developmentally appropriate and stimulating activities for children.

Mr. Speaker,

Effective Child Care Regulation promotes quality care that can benefit children’s learning and development and the CCR team works with individuals and centres to raise their capacity to provide high quality care. To this end, CCRP utilizes the Standards for Rating of Service Providers (STARS) system to evaluate care settings.

This comprehensive inspection tool was designed using the Children Act 1998, the Day Care Centre Regulations 1999, and the Child Care Standards 2018, which are aligned with international best practice standards.

In the coming weeks, the Department of Health will launch a public relations campaign before summer 2024. The desired result is that parents and providers clearly understand and share the STARS values, namely:

  • Striving for excellence
  • Targeting a play-based approach
  • Accountability to children, parents, and each other
  • Responsiveness to the individual needs of the child
  • Safe and Healthy Environments

The STARS inspection allows centres and providers to be recognized for meeting the essential child care requirements as well as those choosing to meet higher standards. It is also another tool to empower families when selecting the right child care placement for their child.

Licensed Day Care Centres and Day Care Providers are mandated by the Act and Regulations. DCC’s and DCP’s must maintain at least a 3 STARS rating which indicates the setting has met the minimum requirements by law. Those with 4 and 5 STARS ratings have exceeded the requirements by successfully implementing additional best practice standards. Following an inspection, centers or providers may need to enhance the quality of care and conditions to meet the minimum regulatory standards [3 STARS]. The CCR team offers continuous guidance and support to help meet these requirements.

Mr. Speaker,

The following are some of the key areas that not only assure compliance with minimum standards but that also contribute to high quality child care settings.

Child care facilities must be well-maintained, free from hazards, and age-appropriate for the children served. This includes proper playground equipment, electrical safety, and clean and sanitary conditions. Toys and equipment should be age-appropriate, in good condition, and sanitized regularly.

Constant and active supervision is essential, especially during transitions and outdoor play. Defined areas of responsibility should be in place for staff. Children should never be left alone with choking hazards or in situations where they could injure themselves.

Mr. Speaker,

Sick children should be excluded from care to prevent the spread of illness. Clear policies on illness exclusion and return to care should be shared with parents. Handwashing routines and hygiene practices should be emphasized with both staff and children. Regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and toys is essential.

Mr. Speaker,

Ongoing skills training is crucial. Staff should be competent with:

  • Pediatric first aid and CPR
  • Safe sleep practices
  • Child abuse recognition and prevention
  • Child development stages and appropriate activities

Investment in ongoing professional development opportunities keeps staff up to date on best practices and promotes continuous improvement in child care quality.

Staff to child ratios are mandated and based on the children’s age and developmental needs. Younger children require more supervision, so lower ratios are essential for infants and toddlers.

Activities and curricula at day care should be designed to meet the specific developmental needs of children of different age groups. This includes promoting their emotional, social, physical, intellectual, and creative development.

Play-based Learning is essential for young children’s learning and development. Curricula and activities should be designed to encourage exploration, discovery, creativity, and imagination through play. A balance of individual and group activities, indoor and outdoor play, and structured and unstructured learning opportunities should be provided.

Activities should be hands-on and engaging, allowing children to learn through active participation and exploration, while fostering independence and creativity.

Mr. Speaker,

Effective Child Care Regulation helps to protect children from abuse, neglect, and accidents. Our team works closely with the Department of Child and Family Services and the Vulnerable Persons Unit of the Bermuda Police Service for child safeguarding. These agencies and the Courts also assist with day care staff vetting for this sector.

By empowering staff through knowledge and professional development, and in collaboration with Bermuda College, the Child Care Regulation Programme facilitates growth of a qualified and skilled child care workforce that fosters a safe and nurturing environment for children to thrive in.

The CCR team at the Department of Health collaborates closely with the child care sector, implementing initiatives to ensure regulatory compliance and quality improvement. Here are some key points:

Since 2022, the CCR section has conducted quarterly meetings with the sector, and in 2023, distributed a feedback survey to stakeholders. This collaborative effort led to adjustments in the implementation of the STARS program.

The CCR team has improved communications to ensure better understanding of the inspection scoring criteria, outcomes, and remedial actions.

Following consultations, the DOH adjusted the duration of annual inspections and introduced a one-month notice period to enhance efficiency and stakeholder readiness.

To ensure fairness and accuracy, annual inspections now allow for re-evaluation before the publication of STARS ratings.

Recognizing the financial challenges faced by child care providers, the CCR has facilitated import duty relief for materials and supplies utilized in child care settings, easing operational burdens.

Mr. Speaker,

The healthy physical, cognitive, and social development of children during their early years, from birth to age 5, holds immense significance.

The Ministry is committed to working with the child care sector and parents to ensure that we have safe and high-quality child care in place to protect our children and support working families in Bermuda. I want to thank the hard-working team at the Department of Health’s Child Care Regulation Programme. If the public, and especially parents, or parents to be, wish to learn more, I encourage them to visit

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

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