The mushrooming day care centres and playschools in Gurgaon are operating unregulated. So much so that the administration doesn’t even have an exact number of such institutions in the city, nor any policy to ensure that these centres maintain standards.
A rough count puts the number of such centres in the city at 250 and most of them claim to be equipped with facilities to provide a secure “second-home” to toddlers while their parents are busy. But not one of these centres is registered with the district administration in the absence of any regulatory policy that mandates them to do so.
The discrepancy came to the fore on Tuesday when a day care owner in Gurgaon was booked for negligence after the thumb of a three-year-old girl was severed in an accident at the centre.
“We do not have a policy to monitor or regulate the functioning of day care or play schools. But we are working on it,” said TL Satyaprakash, deputy commissioner of Gurgaon.
In a city like Gurgaon, where both parents are employed, women face pressure to get back to work as soon as possible after delivery. Day care institutions are the only solace for many working mothers.
To reassure parents, most centres claim that they are equipped with CCTV cameras, child-proof furniture, power backup, air conditioning, and pickup and drop services for kids.
“We take a lot of steps to ensure the safety and well-being of each child who comes to the centre. The centre is connected to a nearby multi-specialty hospital in case of any emergency. There are CCTV cameras everywhere and the food given to kids is made of fresh produce and tested,” said a day care owner, requesting anonymity.
But no one from the government ever monitors these centres. The parents claimed that not all the units get a police verification done for drivers and caretakers.
“I checked out five day care units before choosing one in South City 2. A few centres had not verified their employees, so how can we be sure of whom we are leaving our kids with?” said Ruchika Tomar, a mother of 3-year-old and HR executive at an IT Firm.
The previous UPA government at the Centre had come up with a policy in 2013 -- the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy -- which mandated staff-kid ratio, space-child ratio and other regulations in day care centres. The policy, however, seems to be only on paper.
“The incident that happened at Cherub Angels day care was unfortunate. But we have only the Indian Penal Code to regulate,” Satyaprakash said.