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The Pre-School Learning Alliance has launched a free iPhone app to help parents choose the right childcare.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “Parents should be given every opportunity to make informed decisions when choosing childcare for their children. A large part of that relates to not just the location of the early years setting but also to its quality.
“We have developed this iPhone app to make it easier for parents to be better informed and use independent assessments of the quality of local childcare available.”
He added: “Last year the Coalition Government said it was keen for parents to make informed choices on childcare by using Ofsted reports. Our app achieves this by making independent childcare information available to parents in a simple visual manner.
“It allows any parent at any time to determine what childcare is available in their specific geographical area, giving them immediate and up-to-date detail about the quality of that setting and further information about what to ask when choosing their childcare.”
The free app ‘Choosing Childcare with the Pre-school Learning Alliance’ is simple to use.
When parents click on the map it pinpoints all day nurseries and pre-schools registered and regulated by Ofsted in their area.
Clicking on a red pinpoint brings up the setting’s contact details, its Ofsted report, and the best route to get to it from home.
There is also a parent zone giving advice on how to choose the right childcare, with a number of key questions parents should ask when they visit and information about the settling-in process when a young child starts daycare.
The parent zone also gives tips and advice on healthy eating, courtesy of the Infant & Toddler Forum’s Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers initiative.
Dr Atul Singhal, professor of paediatric nutrition at the UCL Institute of Child Health and chair of the Infant & Toddler Forum, said: “We’ve been working closely with the Alliance to help implement positive changes to their settings’ mealtimes, using our Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers.
“This app is the perfect extension of that work, putting expert advice on feeding the under-threes straight into the hands of parents.”
You can watch the demonstration video of the app on the Pre-school Learning Alliance’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/preschoolla.
The development of the iPhone app was sponsored by Danone Baby Nutrition. Helen Crichton, head of public affairs at Danone UK, said: “Our work aims to address the lack of practical support for parents of pre-school children.
“Childcare settings and staff play an important role at this critical stage in children’s lives, and we’re therefore delighted to support this app, giving mums and dads simple information on things like Ofsted reports and healthy eating.”
The app is available to download free from the Apple App Store. Visit www.apple.com/uk/iphone/from-the-app-store, search for “childcare” and look for the Alliance’s purple icon.
The app includes the following features:
• Search for local childcare in your local area using its user-friendly, zoomable map. You can also type in an address or postcode for childcare in a different area
• View an early years setting’s contact details and call it with one touch of a button
• Access a setting’s latest Ofsted inspection report
• View directions and distance to the setting from your home
• Bookmark your favourites
• E-mail or tweet your choices
• Search for childcare by name of nursery, address or postcode
• Access helpful articles and resources in the Parent Zone