Website to rate quality of childcare

Online childcare directory Care for Kids.
Online childcare directory Care for Kids. 

Parents will soon be able to rate their childcare centre online and share their reviews with other parents.

The online childcare directory, CareForKids, is preparing to launch the ratings system for users of childcare services, the first system of its kind in Australia and two years ahead of a promised federal government childcare rating website.

But some childcare operators are refusing to support the ratings, warning they will be entirely subjective.

In a report for the childcare industry, CareForKids said: ''We are developing the rating system as a way for parents to provide informed comment which will hopefully assist other parents make their childcare decision.''

Parents can rate a childcare centre on a range of criteria, including staff, environment and facilities, food, parent communication, and warmth and empathy, or the ''cuddle factor''. There is also an overall star rating out of five for the service, and parents can post and read testimonials.

To ensure the integrity of the system, parents who want to rate a service must have had a child attending the service in the last 12 months. CareforKids vets all ratings before they are posted on the internet.

Barbara Romeril, the national secretary of Australian Community Children's Services, which represents not-for-profit childcare centres, said: ''Parents' subjective experiences of services are valid [but] it is really crucial that readers are aware this is parents' experience.''

Gwynn Bridge, president of the Australian Child Care Alliance, which represents private childcare centres, said it ''couldn't endorse'' the CareForKids system. She said the government's quality assurance system was the ultimate umpire.

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