Report: Excess of unregistered childcare centres due to legal loophole

Report: Excess of unregistered childcare centres due to legal loophole

KUALA LUMPUR,. There is currently an excess of unregistered childcare centres due to a loophole in the law, according to the New Straits Times (NST).

According to the report, an existing loophole in the Child Care Centre Act 1984 — where those caring for fewer than three children are exempted from having to register with the Welfare Department — has created an excess of unregistered childcare centres.

Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia president Norsheila Abdullah said the public tends to blame the Department of Welfare when there is an accident involving children in care centres.

But Norsheila pointed out that authorities face difficulties in enforcing the law as its jurisdiction is limited to registered childcare centres.

“Whenever there is an accident, people will blame the welfare for not monitoring centres.

“But its policies are clear. It monitors child care centres. The hands of the department officers are tied too.

“They cannot inspect people’s houses as they can be sued for trespassing unless reports are lodged against caregivers,’’ she said.

Norsheila also said that handling too many children could result in untrained and overburdened childminders losing their temper and hurting others.

She explained that operators prefer to take in “transit children”, a term used by caregivers for children who stay at their centres for less than three hours.

“If it’s more than three hours, it is considered after-school care and operators are supposed to prepare activities for children, which include checking their homework

“Operators love taking in transit children because they are stationed for a short period of time, payment will be made and there is no ratio for transit children,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS said overcrowding in centres is unhealthy and could lead to the spread of diseases.

“Overcrowding is unhealthy, even in our homes, because diseases spread easily in crowded environment.

“The children-to-caregiver ratio is critical, but it will not affect the spread of diseases. It is the number of children in a small space that is important.”

Dr Amar also said overcrowded centres could also affect children’s development.

“Overcrowded centres mean less attention will be given to each child so their development progress will be impaired.

“It means that they don’t get to explore and learn. The premises’ hygiene will be harder to maintain,’’ he said.