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This article is written by Amritha Priya, pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from Lawsikho.com.

Introduction

Creche or day-care are organisations run by individuals who take care of children during the day when their parents are working. This can either be run for the purpose of making profit or could be a non-profit organisation. They are not only for infants but also for other categories of children, like: 

  1. Infants/ toddlers;
  2. Pre schoolers; and
  3. School aged children. 

Such classification is essential because the nature of care, attention required in each age group is different. In the case of the first category special care is required, as they are infants, so the number of people required would be more when compared to that of other categories. In the case of second category Pre-schoolers mostly the notorious ones, imparting good behaviour at that age is essential, along with teaching few basics here the staff employed must have minimum qualification when compared to the prior. In the last category, the school-aged group qualified persons are required to teach and complete their assignments. Sometimes, the organisation will be responsible for getting those kids back from school, so staff for the same will also become essential. Thus, it is clear that the nature, qualification, staff requirement for each age group is different. 

Why Creche are Necessary? 

Today, the age-old concept of women staying back home and cooking and men work is replaced by ‘men and women earn living together’. Likewise, the government has also recognised equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity for work irrespective of gender. Which has allowed women to work in par with men. It is observed that the number of working women has increased drastically in the mid-twentieth century and the daycare have also increased simultaneously. Even the Ministry of Women and Child Development has passed few guidelines as to how and the requirements for establishing creche in accordance to the Maternity Benefit Act, 2017. It is made mandatory that every establishment must have a creche, which enables working mothers to work without fear about their kids. 

Importance of Creche:

  1. It’s difficult for a working mother to spend quality time with her kids, by sending them to recognised organisations they can make sure and keep a track on their child academics, behaviour etc. Though parents are back working, some daycare allows them to monitor 24/7. 
  2. It’s very disheartening to see in everyday newspapers that even toddlers are also subject to molestation by their neighbours/ relatives etc; By sending them to such recognised organisations parents can work back peacefully. 
  3. These institutions not only impart education but also allow children to indulge in extra activities. Children are just not exposed to academics but also sports, which allow them to grow intellectually. 
  4. Kids would also play along with their age groups or above; which is not likely possible in gated communities. Also, they get to learn from each other collectively. 
  5. Regular schedules and activities will be mandatory with children. They would learn discipline and punctuality 
  6. Children will be used to the school environment and it becomes easy for parents to send them to school. 

Types of Registration under different Laws 

  1. This can either be a profit or non-profit day-care. If the day care is for making profit then it can be incorporated either as a private limited company or a limited liability company.
  2. If it’s a non-profit organisation then it is incorporated under as trust or a company. For example: Shishu Mandir in Karnataka which runs a daycare, is incorporated under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960 as a trust and registered as a society. 
  3. It could be franchise under the finance act; a franchise is one such establishment where one needs to enter into an agreement with the parent organisation and comply with the terms and conditions set forth by the parent organisation. It is more contractual in nature and governed by the Indian contract act, 1872. 
  4. One can start a day-care in their home premises also, this does not require permissions specifically, but must take permission from co-operative society if it is in a gated community. If it is a residential house which is taken on rent/ lease then the permission of the owner, because the premises is used for making profits, it is advised to specifically include a clause in their agreement. But they must ensure all the requirements are met for starting the same, for example sanitation, water supply, enough space for kids to play, required staff etc. 
  5. It can also be registered under partnership act or rule as a sole proprietor. In case it’s incorporated as a company then permission from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs along with the ministry of women and child welfare is required. 

Guidelines by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare in accordance to the Maternity Benefit Act (Amendment) 2017

Guidelines were drafted and published by the MWCW on 2nd November 2018 which stated that creche should be established in accordance with the Maternity Benefit Act. The ministry of Labour and Employment mandated for establishing creche in every establishment having more than 50 employees. These rules are applicable to all the institutions that fall under the ambit of this act. Institutions to which the Provisions are applicable, this act is applicable to all establishments which are inclusive of factories, mines, plantations, government establishments, shops and establishments under the relevant applicable legislation or any other establishments as may be notified by the central government on this behalf. 

The Amendment came into effect from 1st April 2017 and the provisions of establishment are mentioned in Section 11A of the said Act. The guidelines provide a list of minimum standards and norms based on child development principles in alignment with the National ECCE Policy 2013. Some norms are mandatory to be followed and they are non-negotiable whereas some norms can be reviewed and adopted as per the need and situation. 

The committee has set up minimum guidelines to run a creche within the establishment for age groups between 6 months to 6 years, which include location, timing, infrastructure, equipment, health, nutrition practise, safety and protection, trained human resources, parents engagement and others to ensure hostile development and care of every child. 

This Department of Women and Child Welfare formulates plans, policies, programmes, guides and co-ordinate the efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organisations. It was earlier implemented as Central Sector Scheme through Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) and Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) till 31/12/2016 but now is governed under the DWC. 

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What are the Guidelines? 

  • Whom: Children from 6 months to 6 years.
  • Location: Within 500 meters from such establishment. 
  • Timing: 8 hours to 10 hours.
  • Infrastructure: Preferably ground floor to ensure safety of children; Concrete building as per CPWD norms; every child must have enough place to rest, learn and play; proper light; safe and potable water; sleeping and medical aid; equipment required for studying.
  • Creche environment: Steps must be taken to ensure nurturing, responsive and inclusive environment in creche; bright, cheerful, child play essentials, teaching, learning material; child safety essential norms, relevant materials displayed on walls.
  • Precautionary measure: All necessary measures must be taken in such creche. Special care must be taken to keep the children safe and secure at the centre; entry cards is to be issued to parents and staff members; doors and gates shall be made of specified manner; the creche cannot be established where there are toxic fumes; sharp objects must be avoided in the creche; chemicals must be kept away from the child; all furniture must be sturdy and safe; toys must be child friendly; no child must be left alone in the creche; attendance should be maintained and they must keep a tack of this; it must be ensured that all electronics, switches, plugs should be kept away from the child; any kind of abuse must be strictly prohibited; CCTV footage of 90 days must be available; any sexual abuse will be brought under the ambit of POCSO act; police guard is mandatory.
  • Human resource: A creche can have maximum of 30 children

Adult child ratio: 1:10 for the under 3 years, plus one worker.

1:20 for 3 years to 6 years, plus one helper and one guard is mandatory.

  • Creche materials: Cribs; one refrigerator; one water purifier; washing machine and oven (optional); wall clock; gas stove; music system; a table should be used to clean young children; should follow waste disposal norms; one almirah; one black board; hand towels; shoe rack; stools; weighing scales; etc.

This list is not exhaustive, guidelines of the ministry are available for more specific details. The same came to be followed by the creche established outside the ambit of the Maternity Act. 

Various Acts under which Creche is Mandatory

1) Factories Act, 1948

2) The Building and other Construction Workers (regulation of employment and condition of service) Act 1996

3) The Mines Act, 1966

4) Interstate Migrant Women (regulation of employment and condition of services) Central Rules, 1980

5) Plantation Labour Act, 1951

6) The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (MGNREGA), 2005

7) Maternity Benefit Act, 2017

8) Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme 

Conclusion

The concept of creche has evolved in the recent past. By sending kids to such institutions at a very small age would make them more disciplined and they will start adjusting with various age groups, which is often not possible in gated communities. Also, kids will have more of a secured and protected environment when compared to leaving them behind home alone or neighbours house. The government has also felt the need to have one and has mandated such in many of the institutions mentioned hereinabove. It is also clear that guidance can make wonders, thus providing proper guidance at the right time in the right way is also essential.


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