On Tuesday the 4th of April, the Inspectorate of Education published a report following the first measurement of childcare quality in the Caribbean Netherlands. The inspectorate visited all childcare organisations on Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius in 2021 and 2022. This first round of inspections shows that the quality of childcare needs further improvement. It also found that there is a lot of commitment from all involved to get this done in the coming years, but it will take time and resources.
The Inspectorate of Education (hereinafter: inspectorate) visited 68 day care, out-of-school care and host parent care locations in 2021 and 2022, in cooperation with local inspectors on the three islands. The aim was to carry out a 0 measurement based on the quality requirements laid down in 2020 in the local island regulations and soon in the law. The report gives a good picture, on the basis of which the BES(t) 4 kids programme will continue to work on improving quality and accessibility.
Minister Carola Schouten has sent the report and her response, also on behalf of Minister Dennis Wiersma of OCW, to the House of Representatives. Commenting on the report, she said, “The childcare organisations are working hard to improve quality. This report shows these initial improvements. I am confident that the commitment of the organisations, together with additional support measures and the extension of the BEST(t) 4 kids programme until 2028 will lead to even more quality.”
The inspectorate is positive about the fact that many professionals are already taking intermediate vocational education courses and that they manage to provide regular faces in front of the groups despite the challenge of finding and retaining staff. The inspectorate is also positive about daily healthy food, contact with parents and the pedagogical actions of group leaders. They interact with the children in a sensitive and responsive manner at most sites. They set boundaries and provide structure. Another important finding of the inspectorate is that all parties involved show drive and commitment to further increase the quality of childcare.
For instance, play-based stimulation and monitoring of children’s development is a point of attention. Both the supply of playing and the educational behaviour of professionals could be improved at many locations. Housing is also a major challenge, as a result of which children often have little space for playing. Furthermore, a pedagogical policy plan is often lacking and the targeted and structured management of quality improvement is still in its infancy at many organisations. This will require a lot of effort in the coming years.
The safety and health policy also did not yet meet all requirements in many locations. For instance, staff members’ Certificates of Good Conduct were not (all) present or up to date, and there was not always an adult present who had attended the (annual refresher) child first aid training. The Inspectorate gave a short recovery period for these elements and the minister too indicates that she considers it important to put this in order as soon as possible.
Following the first round of inspection, all childcare organisations received an advisory report with the points that are going well and need improvement. They are supported in this by the BES(t) 4 kids programme. Now that the first file recording has been completed, regular supervision also takes effect. The Inspectorate will annually visit all childcare organisations to monitor quality.