If you're wondering whether a family day care environment is the right fit for your family, have a look at the benefits of choosing family day care, when considering child care and early education options for your child.
According to a survey by Family Day Care Australia, families often choose family day care for its unique natural home environment and small group settings. They also find that close bonds and one-to-one attention to their kids leads to an appealing child care environment.
Family day care is the perfect solution for parents and carers, that are looking for a safe, welcoming, and affordable environment for their child – while being adaptable to their work environment.
Benefits of Family Day Care
Family day care provides high-quality esocially and educationally stimulating arly education and care to children in the own home of the educator. It is a nurturing, natural and flexible learning environment, with many appealing benefits.
We had a chat with our Assistant Director for Children’s Services, Phillipa Hargrave, to discuss what this type of child care can offer families.
1. Individualised learning programs
Family day care educators provide individualised learning programs for the children they care for.
“The unique small group setting allows our educators to provide a play-based learning program that’s tailored to each individual child’s development needs and interests,” Phillipa says.
“So, if your child has special interests, or interests which are outside the norm, our educators are very skilled at planning their learning program around those to create the best possible experience for your child.”
2. Flexible hours and costs
Family day care educators can offer care for your kids during standard hours, evenings, before/after school, during school holidays and in some instances, overnight and weekends.
“Educators charge an hourly rate rather than a daily rate, potentially making it a more affordable childcare option,” explains Phillipa.
“Many also have very flexible hours and can offer care at times to suit your working hours – whether those are standard or out of the regular.”
3. Healthier children
Many families are also of the view that having children in the care of a family day care service means larger health benefits.
Phillipa says that many parents and carers find that being around a smaller group of children means their own child does not get ill as often as they may in a more populated care environment, hence enjoying the “health benefits”.
4. Greater community engagement
Having your child in the care of a family day care educator can often mean experiences that reflect the diversity of the community.
The small group numbers allow educators to easily engage in their community.
“Our families love that a lot of our educators are very active in the community, sourcing their own community connections and things that they are passionate about,” says Phillipa.
“Prior to COVID-19, our educators were taking children to nursing homes or community gardens, had local outings to the shops, library or local parks and parklands, or came to one or more of our five playgroups.
“All of these outings allowed the children to learn from everyday life activities and experiences and helped them become familiar with their local community and form relationships with the people in it.”
Courtney Love, one of Communities@Work’s almost 100 family day care educators, agrees.
“Parents really love that we can get out in the community. Before the restrictions, so many of my fellow educators were out pretty much every day. And that’s really good for the children’s stimulation and for their learning opportunities.
For instance, when we go out to the shops, we teach the children about manners, how we’re supposed to be safe and how we need to stay close to each other in the shop. So it’s more than just like being at home – it’s about always looking for and using opportunities to educate. Even if it’s the most mundane thing.”
5. Closer bonds with educators
The family day care environment offers the opportunity to children to form authentic and long-lasting bonds with their educator.
Taking the time to work with new families ensures the right fit between a child, educator and family.
“When families first come to us looking for care, we try to get a feel for their family values and needs so we can best match those with our educator’s values and abilities,” explains Phillipa. “With almost 100 qualified and passionate educators registered with us, with diverse backgrounds and cultures, families have plenty of opportunities to find one that best suits them and their child.
“Making sure we get the right fit also means your child is more likely to form genuine long-lasting bonds with their educator, who nurtures them and looks after them as their own mother would. Many families view our educators as a second mother to their child – and that’s exactly what many are looking for.”
Parent Sally Alcock certainly agrees.
“We are so happy that we found our Communities@Work educator to care for our daughter. She wakes up every morning and asks, “Am I going to Becky’s today?” It’s such a relief knowing she is so comfortable and happy in her care. Rebecca is like a second mum to her and that’s exactly what we wanted it to feel like.”
6. Strong support network
One of the many benefits of choosing family day care is the strong support network behind your educator.
Communities@Work’s Family Day Care and In-Home Care is an award-winning service, supporting almost 1000 Canberran children. A large part of its success stems from the support provided to educators by its support coordination team and the enviable partnership created between the two.
“Our educators have a lot of knowledge to share. We have a lot of knowledge to share. So together we form a very successful partnership in leading the education of children in a home environment,” says Phillipa. “Seeing their educator so strongly supported is also very reassuring for families and gives them peace of mind that their child will continue to receive a high quality of care.
“We‘re here for them on a day to day level, providing guidance and advice – either over the phone or by visiting them in their homes. Because we know that being a family day care educator can be an isolating job at times. That’s why we’re really passionate about creating networks and support groups for our educators so they feel like they’re part of a bigger team.
“We’re also very passionate about extending their professional development and offer numerous training opportunities each year, including online or classroom-based, professional dinners, and networking forums.
During the current COVID-19 restrictions, the coordination team has been working closely with educators to support families to continue to access their normal care arrangements and have put active measures in place to support the health and safety of all accessing the service.
“We’re proud that many of our educators have been with us for 20-30 years,” says Phillipa. “That’s a sign that we’re doing something right!”
About Family Day Care Educators
Family Day Care educators are qualified early childhood education and care professionals. They engage in the principles and practices of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and work within the requirements of the National Quality Framework.
These educators need to meet certain requirements to offer care to children, so that your children will be in a safe, educational child care environment. Some of these requirements include being registered with an approved family day care service, be at least Certificate III level qualified in early childhood education and care (or be working towards the certificate), maintain emergency health management certificates and training such as first aid and CPR, maintain a clearance of working with children, maintain current public liability insurance coverage, etc. More information about these can be found on the Family Day Care Australia website.
Communities@Work Family Day Care and In-Home Care
Communities@Work’s family day care and in-home care services deliver high quality small group education and care, provided in educator’s own homes and tailored to individual families’ needs. We support almost 100 educators who are self-employed professionals, committed to children’s education and care, and to their own professional learning. Our family day care educators offer care for children across several locations in Canberra and the surrounding ACT region.
Our educators are supported by a strong support coordination unit, dedicated to leading practice and learning in early childhood education and child care. Our family day care educators are known for their passion, interest, and connection to the children.
We are a two-time National Family Day Care Service of the Year Award winner (2015 and 2016). Our service is rated as Exceeding Quality Standard under the National Quality Framework.
To find out more, visit our Communities@Work Family Day Care and In-Home Care page.
A shorter version of this story is also available on The RiotACT.