With the need to juggle professional commitments and family responsibilities, childcare centres have become an important support mechanism for many parents with babies and young children.
Discover more about daycare services in Malta and Gozo and see which service provider best meets your needs.
What are the Benefits of Sending Children to Childcare?
While child care services are a necessity for the majority of working parents, many still feel a sense of concern or perhaps even guilt. Nonetheless, studies have shown there are many benefits, most especially when it comes to children's early development stages. Some of the key benefits include:
- Establishing a Routine: Regular attendance in childcare centres ensures that young children form structured habits and routines in relation to playing, eating and napping. In turn, these also help children experience a smoother transition into the school system.
- Interacting with Children: Attending preschool provides young children with the possibility to interact and socialise with children of the same age which in turn enables them to form important social skills. On the other hand, children who stay at home are more likely to interact with adults only.
- Strengthening the Immune System: It is a known fact that many children get sick frequently when they start attending school. However, childcare attendance helps children to develop a stronger immune system at a younger age which makes them more likely to ward off viruses when they commence formal schooling.
- Developing Key Skills: Apart from being fun, child care activities stimulate children's senses and help them develop important linguistic and numerical skills as they grow up.
Childcare Centres in Malta and Gozo
With the large number of child care centres available across the island, parents are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a centre in Malta. Indeed, these are broadly distributed across the Maltese Islands and parents can easily choose a service provider that is situated in close proximity to their place of residence, their work or near a relative that assists in the care of the children.
Strict regulations are in place to ensure that all daycare centres offer the best possible care, safety and well-being to the babies and children in their responsibility. Indeed, all licensed centres are regulated and routinely vetted for quality assurance purposes. This ensures that all facilities are of an adequate standard, health and safety specifications are in place and group sizes are respected. This offers parents peace of mind that their children are spending their days in a safe and comfortable environment where they can grow, while their developmental milestones are monitored.
Childcare centres offer activity programmes that are entertaining and varied while being designed in a way that enables children to develop important abilities such as social skills, self-confidence, respect for those around them, discipline, creativity and problem-solving. These activities very often include crafts, cooking, story-telling, sing along, dressing-up and seasonally themed playing. Apart from colourful indoor spaces where children can learn and play, many daycare centres also have well-equipped outdoor areas where little ones can enjoy hands-on activities such as gardening and water games throughout spring and summer.
The large majority of preschools cater for babies from the age of 3 months to toddlers and young children up to the age of 5 years. Age-specific designated areas are usually available to ensure the optimal level of safety and care for the children. A kindergarten service is very often also available for little ones between the ages of 3 and 5, as well as summer school clubs for families who need a child minding service for the summer season.
Free Childcare Scheme
Although many childcare centres are privately owned service providers, a nation-wide scheme for the provision of free childcare services is available in Malta and Gozo. This scheme was introduced in 2014 with the aim of providing tangible support to parents or guardians who are either in employment or pursuing their studies and who need assistance for a more balanced work/life situation. Through this free childcare scheme, parents who are in employment or education and who have children aged between 3 months and 3 years can avail themselves from a number of free hours at one of the licensed centres that form part of the scheme. The free allocation is calculated according to the number of hours that the parents are in employment while predetermined allocations are available for those who are studying on a full-time or part-time basis.
Together with the completed registration form, applicants are required to present the latest three payslips for one of the parents (or mother/father in the case of single parents) and an employer signed declaration with the number of working hours of both parents, where applicable. Self-employed parents need to include the most recent tax return or Inland Revenue Department acknowledgement or the latest NI contribution receipt together with a signed declaration with the number of hours worked. Meanwhile, parents who are in education are required to provide a recently dated statement of attendance from the course provider and a statement of course recognition from the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE).
A large number of private child care centres also form part of this scheme, so parents are encouraged to contact their preferred centre directly. The list of participating day care centres together with registration information for this scheme can be found on the dedicated government portal.