Mushrooming Day Care centres, a boon or a bane?

Rahul Manoj

Chennai: Surrounded by a lot of bubbly kids, Sripriya, owner of Harlequins Play School, Adambakkam, said that the main reasons for the mushrooming day care centres were split of the joint family system and an increase in working women.

“The kids here improve their speaking skills as they mingle with other kids of their age group, learn to share things and are taken care of in a safe and structured environment”, she said.  Sripriya added that her main motive of starting Harlequins was for profit.   

In a hurry to reach his office on time, Kumar, a parent when dropping off his daughters said, “As both me and my wife are working, I have enrolled my daughters at Harlequins, considering the safe environment and the proximity to my home”. 

Incidentally, there were three more play schools situated on the same street catering to the needs of children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years. 

Doel Bose, Principal of the Little Millenium Play School, Manapakkam which has 75 approved centres in Chennai said that the reason for the rise in day care centres is because taking care of a young child and concentrating on work is a struggle all working parents face. 

Apart from a structured academic syllabus, they have activities like arts, sports, yoga, music, dance and storytelling which guarantee a patterned development in the child emotionally and socially. She added that children grow up in an environment full of joy, excitement and develop holistically.   

There are challenges like getting approval from the Department of Elementary Education before starting a centre or getting the approval renewed, said Doel. 

Understanding the conceptual idea of how a child reacts, coordinating various activities of the playschool and handling staff issues are the daily obstacles I face”, she added.

Hari who has recently started G.J. Baby Care, a home-based centre, at Adambakkam said, “I have not taken approval for my centre as it is home-based”. 

Vijayalakshmi, an officer at the Department of Elementary Education, said that government approval was compulsory to start a day care centre and the District Education Officer is the competent authority for approval and renewal of the centres. However, when asked about the number of approved day care centres in Chennai, no official was able to provide the data.

At Euro Kids, Thillai Ganga Nagar, Ranjani Mahesan, the owner was busy coordinating kid’s activities and a teacher was helping a child making shapes from coloured clay.  This centre has 140 kids in the age group of two to five and a half years with a staff of 24 people.  

“A home away from home”, is needed for young kids, with both parents working. This is the main reason for the increase in the number of day care centres, she said.  

She added that her love for children, providing service to nuclear families and being her own boss is what attracted her to take up the franchisee of Euro Kids. 

Children who are with Euro Kids, she said, develop creativity, social skills, independence and find an opportunity to discover their interests and talents.   

Dr. Manjunath, a Pediatrician at Sri Chakra Multi Speciality hospital, Nanganallur was of the opinion that single children of working parents will feel depressed at home and will not socialise.   However, children who are left for long hours at the day care, will miss parental love and affection, he added.

“I feel very guilty as I am unable to spend quality time with my son, because of my late working hours”, said Ramya, an IT employee, who leaves her child with Akshaya Day Care Centre, Adambakkam. She recalled an incident when her son had a fight with another kid in the centre and hurt himself in the process. 

The other flipside she said was that her son falls sick frequently as he catches an infection from other children. “He also becomes demanding and displays aggressive behaviour when I refuse to buy the same things his peers have”, she added.