22 April 2023

Looking for a change? Eurobodalla is looking to expand its ranks of early childhood workers

| Claire Sams
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A day care centre

Alison Burns started her family day care business in Dalmeny 15 years ago. Photograph: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

A call has gone out for more family day care workers in the Eurobodalla Shire in response to increased demand.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s children’s services coordinator Louise Hatton said more families were looking to family day care, which accepted children aged zero to 12.

“Learning in a natural home environment with flexible hours of care is becoming more popular, however, we don’t have enough educators,” Ms Hatton said.

“We’ve seen generational bonds created between children and their educators over the years.”

One of those in the industry is Alison Burns, who started her business fifteen years ago.

“I left my retail job to start my own business in childcare so I could be there for my kids, because the cost of working and paying for three kids’ childcare wasn’t viable for me.”

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She educates and cares for others’ young children, and is one of just twelve family day care educators in the Eurobodalla.

“Because you are your own boss, you can lead the way without a director above you telling you how things are done,” Ms Burns said.

Family day care educators are bound by the same laws and regulations as childcare centres, with Eurobodalla Shire Council helping educators start their business and keep on track.

“We have a team to help with every step along the way, with continued support in administration and professional development opportunities,” Ms Hatton said.

“We all offer different services, which can depend on the families and what works for them,” Ms Burns said.

“There’s educators who are nature-based and get out quite often and others that stay in depending on the interests of the families.”

Eurobodalla Shire Council is the approved service provider, as council assesses and develops each educator.

Ms Burns said starting a business did not need to be scary.

“The paperwork was the biggest challenge for me, but it’s only as hard as you make it.

“You also don’t have to start with a massive library of books or big sets of play equipment; you can start small and build as you go.”

Family day care educators choose which hours they work and the ages of children they take on.

They can work with groups of up to seven children at a time.

“It is a career [as] opposed to a hobby as some people see it,” Ms Burns said.

“If you’re passionate about children, you will love it.”

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Ms Burns said she prepared her learning program in line with the interests of the participating children.

“I run a program driven by the children.

“I might find something I want to teach them, but they will tell me otherwise,” she said.

“As much as I teach them, they teach me.

“Kids have such different interests – some I have never heard about!”

Ms Burns said there was an element of flexibility, in that she could plan outings and excursions.

“We aren’t bound to the house; I often meet up with other educators and their children.

“We get together at the library for story time or go to the park when events are on,” Ms Burns said.

Those thinking of starting their own family day care can contact council’s children’s services team by emailing [email protected] or by calling 4474 7333.

Additionally, start-up subsidies are also available before 30 June.

Further information on a family day care program is available online.

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