How to start a family day care business in Australia

How to start a family day care business in Australia
How to start a family day care business in Australia

Family day care is becoming the preferred option for child care for many families, as the benefits of children being cared for in a home environment with a qualified professional become increasingly apparent. With tougher expectations implemented over the past few years to weed out dishonest or substandard operators and educators, the industry is now in need of quality approved providers, coordinators and educational leaders to manage the service, as well as professional educators to educate and care for children in their home. 
The aim of this article is to give you an overview of how to start a family day care business in Australia. We will look at why family day care is becoming an attractive option for families, and the opportunities this provides for aspiring business owners and managers, as well as early childhood professionals. We will also discuss the process of setting up your business and the support and resources available to help you if you want to work from home, or if you want to contribute the quality of the sector.

Family Day Care In Australia

Family day care is a government approved and funded child care option for families. It offers children the opportunity to be cared for in a safe and hygienic home environment, by qualified educators.

Over the past few years, family day care has gone through one of the biggest shakeups seen in Australian child care history. While fraudulent operators tarnished the reputation of family day care, tougher legislation introduced by the government is giving peace of mind to families and increasing the expectations on providers who must be compliant and meet  the National Quality Standards or they will be sanctioned or shut down.

Education and care services are regulated by both federal and state government departments that hold the power to prosecute and sanction services and individuals. From the onset, you must be aware that under the Education and Care Services National Quality Framework, there are fines up to $10,000 for each non-compliant incident, including if a child is not protected from harm or hazards or not adequately supervised. 

Having said that, whether you are an approved provider (the owner of the service) or an educator (who is contracted to the service) running a family day care business can help you to build a successful career and provide you with financial security.

It is also one of the most rewarding professions you can do from your home, surrounded by your own family. So, if you are committed to understanding the governance surrounding family day care, and you are excited by the prospect of running your own business, then I’d like to invite you to read on so you can consider starting your own family day care business in Australia.

Why is the demand for family day care growing?

There is no doubt that family day care is growing to be a popular choice for Australian families. Regular day care centres have long waiting lists, and no room for flexibility to work around schedules of the families the same way family day care can. 

Additionally, many families are seeing the benefits of moving their children away from institutionalised care with large groups of children to a more flexible, nurturing home environment with small multi-age groups of children. Recent studies show parents prefer this model of care for their children.

So, if you have the qualifications and skills, then your community needs you!

Governance: The backbone of every family day care service

There is no doubt that the family day care sector has had to take measures to eliminate dodgy operators. For this reason, approved providers should choose educators from reputable training providers and develop strong governance to create and maintain processes to identify risks, rectify issues, and comply with legislation.

Each service is required by law to have a set of policies and procedures, which are customised to their service. Policies provide the framework and guidance from everything from emergency management, staffing, supervision and simply times for drop off and pick up. 

Whether you are the approved provider or an educator, you must be familiar with and follow the policies and procedures set by the service, as well as the policies you develop yourself to operate your own business. (You can download done-for-you policies or policy templates here)

It is important for anyone considering a career in family day care to understand the vital role governance plays in running a compliant and safe business. To this end, all education and care services in Australia undergo a ratings assessment. 

Australian Services can be rated as: 

Excellent: Service promotes exceptional education and care, demonstrates sector leadership and is committed to continually improving (Awarded by ACECQA)

Exceeding National Quality Standard: Service goes beyond the requirements of the National Quality Standard in at least 4 of the 7 quality areas, with at least two of these being quality areas 1, 5, 6, or 7.

Meeting National Quality Standard: Service meets the National Quality Standard.

Service provides quality education and care in all 7 quality areas. (this should be our minimum operational standard)

Working Towards National Quality Standard: Services provides a safe education and care program. There are 1 or more areas identified for improvement.

Significant Improvement required: Service does not meet 1 of the 7 quality areas or a section of the legislation and there is a significant risk to the safety, health and well being of children. The regulatory authority will take immediate action.

Preparing for an assessment of the program requires the development of a quality improvement plan (QIP), identifying your strengths and areas requiring improvement. Your QIP should be reflective of your service’s overall quality improvement strategy. Education and care services are assessed and rated by the state or territory regulatory authority. (To help you improve your ratings, I have developed online courses for both approved providers and educators)

While all this talk of governance and legislation can be scary, it is important to remember that they are there for a reason (keeping children safe), and are ultimately what will protect you and help you to build a successful and profitable family day care business. 

For educators, I wrote the JPS Survival Guide for Australian Family Day Care Educators that breaks down the legislation so it is easier to follow and implement. The guide is downloadable and will give you a great insight to what is expected of you as a family day care educator.

Why is family day care a great industry to work in?

You get to:

  • Work from home around your family
  • Manage your own business
  • Be a part of a growing industry where demand is high
  • Impact future generations by being a part of the education revolution (moving children away from institutionalised care and not limit learning to the walls of a classroom)
  • Make a positive impact on the lives of children
  • Support families who need to work or study 

Which role in family day care is the best fit for you?

Within family day care, there are a number of roles you can choose from to suit your skills, knowledge, and experience. The main opportunities are:

Business management: These are the approved providers/nominated supervisors who own and manage the service.

Coordinators: Manage, monitor, and support the educators to ensure they are compliant.

Educational Leaders: Part of the leadership team who make sure the educator program fits the needs of each child. They guide and direct the educational program across the service.

Educators: Work from their home as educators with children enrolled in the service

Educator Assistants: Can be part of the educator’s family. They don’t have to have a qualification but need CRP and First Aid training, as well as police and Working With Children checks.

Let’s take a more indepth look at each of these opportunities, and discuss how you can get started in the role you are most suited to.

Approved Providers and Nominated Supervisors

Who are they? A person or legal entity, such as a partnership or company, who holds the approval to operate an approved education and care service. 

What is their role in the service? Approved providers and nominated supervisors are required to ensure each educator, educator assistant, coordinator and educational leader are meeting the minimum requirements of the Education and Care Services National Quality Law 2010, Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011, Education and Care Services National Quality Standards, Approved Learning Frameworks and the Family Assistance Law 2010 by: 

  • Communicating and monitoring the service’s statement of philosophy
  • Providing policies and procedures to stakeholders
  • Recruiting educators and staff  
  • Monitoring and mentoring 
  • Continual Improvement 
  • Conducting themselves within the service’s code of conduct at all times
  • Monitoring educators’ homes for safety and compliance and provide training and support in all aspects of education and care service delivery
  • Implementing sound recruitment and eligibility assessment of educators, residents and staff
  • Monitoring and ensuring educators credentials such as CPR remain current at all times
  • Ensuring children’s files remain current and are communicated with the educator at all times
  • Verifying claims for Child Care Subsidy prior to submission 
  • Ensuring children’s educational programs are developed in accordance with Approved Learning Framework/s
  • Monitoring other documentation and records for compliance and quality control
  • Being available by telephone at all times children are registered to be in care 
  • Developing, implementing and encouraging ongoing communication between families and educators
  • Providing opportunities for stakeholders to contribute to policy review, suggestions for service operation and improvement 
  • Ensuring stakeholders are informed of changes in recommended/best practice
  • Developing performance management and termination processes
  • Welcoming and supporting students and volunteers
  • Undertaking a safety and performance review within 24 hours of a serious incident
  • Enrolling and placing children in homes, with educators that meet their individual needs 
  • Managing the fees and payments to educators 
  • Be answerable to both state and federal regulatory authorities
  • Responsible for the children, staff, educators, families and of course children ‘The entire service’  

How do I become an approved provider? 

There are three stages to becoming an approved provider. This short video explains each stage:

 

Resources to help:

External Resources:

Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority: https://www.acecqa.gov.au/

National Quality Framework https://www.acecqa.gov.au/national-quality-framework

JPS Resources:

If you want to become an approved provider, I have put together an online course to help you navigate the application processes. Check it out here.

Check out the JPS website  and the JPS Family Day Care Advisers You Tube channel for heaps of resources, tips and advice.

Coordinators

Who are they? Employed or contracted by the service and hold a minimum Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (or equivalent) 

What is their role in the service? Coordinators are responsible for ensuring they monitor and assist educators to meet the minimum requirements of the Education and Care Services National Regulations by: 

  • Monitoring the service’s statement of philosophy is being implemented 
  • Using policies to guide decisions, processes and behaviours 
  • Using the National Quality Standards for guidance and assist educators to development and implement a quality improvement plan
  • Conducting themselves within the service’s code of conduct at all times
  • Monitoring educators’ homes for safety and compliance
  • Monitoring and ensuring educators’ credentials remain current at all times
  • Monitoring children’s files to ensure currency 
  • Monitoring other documentation and records for compliance and quality control
  • Supporting ongoing communication between educators and families 
  • Welcoming and supporting students and volunteers
  • Provide leadership and guidance to educators and report directly to the nominated supervisor 

How do I become a coordinator?

Coordinators are employed or contracted by the service and hold (at least) a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care 

Resources:

Check out the JPS website  and the JPS Family Day Care Advisers You Tube channel for heaps of resources, tips and advice.

Educational Leaders

Who are they? The educational leader is part of the leadership team of the service

What is their role in the service? Educational leaders are responsible to ensure they monitor and assist educators to develop an educational program for each child that is based on individual needs, strengths, abilities and interests. Documentation must reflect children’s learning over time and the program meets the approved learning frameworks by:

  • Implementing the service’s statement of philosophy ensuring the philosophy is reflected in the educational program
  • Using approved learning frameworks to guide program development 
  • Using the National Quality Standards for guidance, and assist educators to continually improve their professional practice
  • Conducting themselves within the service’s code of conduct at all times
  • Monitoring children’s educational documentation for evidence of the 5 learning outcomes 
  • Supporting ongoing communication between educators and families 
  • Welcoming and supporting students and volunteers

How do I become an educational leader?

Educational leaders are employed or contracted by the service and hold ‘relevant’ qualifications and skills to guide and assess the educational program.

Check out the JPS website  and the JPS Family Day Care Advisers You Tube channel for heaps of resources, tips and advice.

Educator

Who are they? An educator is an individual who holds (or is working toward) a minimum qualification of Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (or equivalent), registered with an approved family day care service. 

Most family day care educators are contracted to an approved family day care service provider (sometimes referred to as a “scheme of agency”), although some educators may enter into an employment arrangement. An agreement or contract with an approved service should include mutual decisions regarding employment or contract conditions, such as hours and days of operation, remuneration or payments, grievance procedures, and matters to consider if terminating the contract.

The service you register with would be obligated to provide you with policies and procedures to ensure you deliver your education and care program within related legislation and the service’s statement of philosophy. Your service will be responsible for providing you with current training or support to ensure you meet the minimum standards of the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

What is their role in the service? Educators are required to develop and deliver an education and care program to children under 12 years of age that meets the Education and Care Services National Law, The Education and Care Regulations, The National Quality Standards and Approved Learning Frameworks, from their home (or venue) by: 

  • Implementing the service’s statement of philosophy
  • Complying with policies and procedures
  • Ensuring children’s health and safety at all times
  • Ensuring accredited training and certifications are current
  • Developing the educational program to support children’s overall learning and well being Maintaining accurate records ensuring confidentiality
  • Utilising the National Quality Standards for reflection and service improvement
  • Participating in any the service’s quality improvement program
  • Collaborating with stakeholders 
  • Conducting themselves within the service’s code of conduct

How do I become a family day care educator?

If you are looking to start your own home based child care business, answering these questions will help you to determine if you are eligible or suited to becoming a family day care educator.

Do you have the right to work in Australia ? 

Are you over the age of 18 years? 

Do you have, or are prepared to gain, the following:

  • Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care?
  • A current working with children safety check?
  • A current police check?
  • A current Anaphylaxis Management Certificate?
  • A current Emergency Asthma Management Certificate?
  • First Aid qualifications?
  • Knowledge of child protection laws and child safe standards?
  • Permission from your property owner to work from your residence?

There are a number of places to search in your local region or area to locate a service. A good place to start is the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) website to access the register of approved education and care services. A service with a minimum rating of ‘Meeting’ the National Quality Standards indicates they are complying with the education and care legislation.

A quality service will ensure you meet the educator eligibility criteria and will undertake an assessment of your home. They will determine the suitability of other residents in your home, and may require you to carry out changes or rectifications to your home prior to approving you as an educator. A quality service will also conduct reference checks with your previous employers.

Resources to help

The Business of a Family Day Care Educator online course: If you are a qualified educator you already know how to take care of children, and you were probably shown how to manage administrative tasks while undertaking your qualification. However, to be successful in family day care, you also need to know how to manage a business. The Business of a Family Day Care Educator online course can be done at your own pace, and covers:

  • Business planning: The what, who and how of what you do.
  • Policy development: How are YOU going to make sure everyone is on the same page?
  • Financial management: How much money do you need to turnover? What are your financial obligations and hidden costs?
  • Marketing and branding: How are you different or how do you stand out in your sector? 
  • Succession planning: Plan and implement your long-term goals. What is next for you or your business?
  • Risk management: Stay and keep everyone safe.

The course includes a business plan, as well as budgeting and cash flow templates. It is a great starting point for you if you are wanting to start a business as a family day care educator, or if you already are an educator and are ready to take your business to the next level. Find out more about the course here

Educator Assistants

Who are they? An educator assistant is an individual who holds (or is working toward) a minimum qualification of Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, and is registered with an approved family day care service. 

What is their role in the service? Educator assistants are required to assist and support the educator to develop and deliver an education and care program to children under 12 years of age that meets the Education and Care Services National Law 2010, The Education and Care Regulations 2011, The National Quality Standards and Approved Learning Frameworks, from the educator’s home (or venue) by: 

  • Implementing the service’s statement of philosophy 
  • Complying with policies and procedures
  • Ensuring children’s health and safety at all times
  • Ensuring accredited training and certifications are current
  • Informing and supporting the delivery of the educational program
  • Maintaining accurate records ensuring confidentiality 
  • Participating in any the service’s quality improvement program
  • Collaborating with stakeholders 
  • Conducting themselves within the service’s code of conduct

 Educator assistants can be recruited to assist with:

  • Supervising children remaining at the educator’s home whilst they transport a child to or from school 
  • Supporting the educator to care for child requiring additional supports 
  • Meal preparation 
  • Excursions or outings
  • Assisting in the development of the educational program  

How do I become a family day care educator assistant?

Educator assistants MUST hold the required credentials prior to being left alone with enrolled children. You must provide copies to the service for the approved provider to approve an educator assistant and must include:

  • Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (can be working towards acquiring in some states) 
  • Proof of age – must be 18 years or over
  • Current police check 
  • Current working with children check Awareness of child protection law

In addition, your relevant work experience and your ability to support the educational program must be considered.

Check out the JPS website  and the JPS Family Day Care Advisers You Tube channel for heaps of resources, tips and advice.

Okay! Now that you have a good understanding of how to start a family day care business is Australia, I want to let you know how I can help you take the next step.

About JPS Family Day Care Advisers

Who are they? JPS Education and Care Advisers are specialists in early childhood education and care. The founder of JPS, Jodie Signorino (me), is a recognised expert in family day care governance, service delivery, and quality improvement. I have over 30 years’ experience in service delivery, management, governance, training, and consultation.

What do they do? JPS Advisers provides coaching, training, support, advice and resources for family day care services and educators. They work with family day care services to identify, rectify, and comply with state and federal legislation. They also guide the professional development of service providers and educators

In summary

 

Family day care is becoming a preferred option for child care for many families, as the benefits of children being cared for in a home environment with a qualified professional become increasingly apparent. With tougher legislation introduced to weed out dishonest operators, the industry is now in need of professionals to run and lead a service, as well as qualified educators to care for children in their home.

 

If you are passionate about giving children the right start, to play a role in shaping our future generation, and to help make those first memories beautiful and cherished, then it’s time for you to reach your potential and build a business that is going to make a difference.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch and to receive a free business planning template so you can get started on your journey in family day care.

5 Self-Education Tips for Family Day Care Professionals

Working in early childhood education we know the importance of learning. But for some of us, it can be hard to manage being both a teacher and student at once. Today, I want to share a few self-education tips for family day care professionals, because if you want to truly make an impact on the lives of others, you must understand the value of life-long learning, and not limit your education to a classroom.

When education professionals undertake study to obtain their qualifications, we are taught how to care for children. But, what we aren’t taught in our formal education is how to manage a business. Most of us learn to do so through trial and error. However, the more self- education we do ourselves, the better chance we have of succeeding at becoming great business owners.

Self-education tips for family day care professionals

And the great thing is, the internet, books, podcasts, and online courses give us the chance to connect with experts. People who have been where we are and can offer sound advice on specific topics. Need to learn how to build a website? You can learn that from experts. Need to learn how to build a marketing strategy? You can learn that from experts, too. 

This all means that YOU have the potential to make your business as big and wonderful as you want it to be. By being skilled and knowledgeable, you can offer a higher quality service which ultimately results in you being able to charge more, and operate at capacity.

Additionally, the more you self-education you do, the closer you get to becoming an expert on any given topic. Then you can teach others if you choose to. Maybe you can write e-books on your area of expertise, become an adviser like me, or even sell digital products to help other education professionals. 

While it can be daunting creating a self-education strategy for yourself, the rewards will be worth it. When you take control of your learning you are taking control of your potential and the direction of your career. For some people, they are happy in the position they are in, but they can still strive to be the best they possibly can be in that role. For others, they may want to pursue new opportunities, and self-education can open new doors for them.

To get you inspired, here are my self-education tips for family day care professionals

5 Self-Education Tips for Family Day Care Professionals 

1) Do a gap analysis: Take stock of where you are now, where you want to be, and how you will get there. For example, if you are an educator who hopes to one day become an approved provider, you are going to need to develop communication and leadership skills to enable you to manage a team. Consider the professional qualifications you will need, and also the personal qualities you will need to develop. A great place to do this, is in your journal. Check out some tips here on how to use your journal for business and self-education.

2) Carve out time for learning: I know we are all busy with our work and or families, so it can take a bit of planning ahead to fit in time for our own learning. Watch a few YouTube videos while you are making dinner or taking a bath. Listen to a podcast or audiobook while you are exercising or driving in the car. Dedicate some time each week to working on your self-education.

3) Quality resources: While the internet allows us to connect with many others in our industry, it is important to ensure you learn from trusted sources. Make sure to check their credentials, and that they know what they are talking about. 

For educators, the best place to start when you want to become great at what you do, is with the legislation surrounding family day care. I know it sounds boring, and it can be hard to make sense of the legal jargon. I have created The JPS Survival Guide for Australian Family Day Care Educators that helps simplify what you need to know, and I give you practical tips on how you can apply your service’s policies and procedures to how you run your family day care business from your home.

4) Consider a mentor: Throughout my career I have had many mentors, Some formal, and some informal. A mentor can help give you direction and guidance, while also being an inspiration to you as you blaze your own path to success. I have mentors in the child care industry, as well as in business and leadership. Who knows, maybe you can help another educator by becoming a mentor to them.

If the idea mentoring others, or seeking your own mentor for guidance appeals to you, then check out my Mentoring Pack.

5) Make it fun: We all know that to reach our potential, we need to embrace self-education, however, that doesn’t mean the process has to be boring. You are more likely to stick with something if you find it enjoyable, so here are a few suggestions to make it fun. 

  • Get a study buddy. Connect with a peer or a friend who wants to work on their own professional development so you can share your journey with each other.
  • Check out Incited Media. Lynda Cahill uses her journal to document her learning using a variety of creative techniques such as lettering, photos, doodles, and magazine clippings. 
  • Make your study time something you look forward to. Play some music, light a candle, or whatever you think will make your session enjoyable.

Just as we encourage children to learn through play, we should have fun while we learn, too.

If you are serious about growing your business then I want to hep you. I have developed 2 signature programs. One for approved providers, and another one for educators, you can use as part of your self-education program.

I will be giving more self-education tips for family day care professionals in my FB Group, on my YouTube channel, and in my newsletters. So, connect with me so you don’t miss out.

Reflection in family day care

Reflection in family day care

If you’ve read my last blog post “How COVID has affected my business”, you will know that over the past few weeks I have taken time to evaluate my business and plan how I can improve it. Doing this made me realise how important reflection in family day care is. So, I thought I’d share one of my reflection projects with you.

I thought I would start at the very beginning of my client journey, when they first subscribed to my email list. People would get a confirmation letter, and that would be it until they received a newsletter. But I was missing a really important opportunity to connect with my new community members and to let them know what I was all about and how I could help them.

So, I did a complete overhaul of my welcome email, and thought I’d share it with you so that you might consider doing something similar as part of one of your reflection in family day care projects. I also wanted to share it here so that people who had been subscribed to my email didn’t miss out on anything.

So, without further ado, here it is.

Reflection in family day care project: My welcome email

Reflection in family day care

My name is Jodie Signorino and I am the founder of JPS Family Day Care Advisers. Those of you that already know me, know I take the ‘fluff and stress” out of understanding legislation and business strategy so you can get the best out of your education and care business.

I advocate for family day care as ‘the’ optimal child care model for early childhood experiences.

I make the ‘hard stuff’ easy by breaking it into ‘snippets’ of content, much of it free, so you can establish, improve or grow your family day care business through self-discovery and self-education, regardless of where you are on your journey.

I’m a recognised governance and management expert by our regulatory authorities and Chisholm Institute, and I use my skills to help you achieve what you want through my proven strategies. I’ve worked with hundreds of approved providers to help them get through the approval process and then to set up their service. I have now expanded to help family day care educators run a successful small home business.

I help you to grow in your own way, whatever that means for you, with downloadable resources, templates, free content and videos, a facebook group and direct access to me. Not to mention the free newsletter I send out regularly. 

I pride myself on working ‘for’ the family day care sector and promise to bring you resources to guide you as you build your business.

Some resources I have for family day care:

Family Day Care Service providers:

Family Day Care Educators:

Family Day Care Applicants:

For Everyone

  • The free JPS Youtube channel provides answers to common questions, tips and information to grow and improve your business (don’t forget to subscribe), the videos are designed to inform your self-education, or can also be used for group training ‘conversation’ starters, and to inform your quality improvement plan.
  • I also maintain a blog to inform you of what’s going on in the sector, strategies and tips for optimal business and quality growth.
  • I am available to answer questions, challenge or inform your thinking on strategy or a particular issue, it’s what I do best. Book a chat with me here.

Now, don’t worry, I hate getting too many emails, so you won’t get bombarded from me. If anything, you’ll come looking for me, which is what seems to happen!

So, welcome to my community. Join the rest of us in the JPS Advisers facebook group, where you can post your questions or experiences and get support from me and your peers. We all want to see the sector flourish.

Want to know more about me? Check this video out or you can check out my webpage here.

Happy to help in any way I can.

Again, welcome! Nice to have you here. The more the merrier, so they say!

Jodie

So, there it is. What can you do as part of your reflection in family day care practice to help you connect better with your community, or become a better educator or service provider?

How COVID has affected my business as a family day care adviser

How COVID has affected my business

I recently wrote a blog post called Setbacks and Silver Linings In Your Family Day Care Business. The aim of that post was to highlight how the perception of family day care has changed because people are realising how crucial we are to the community. You can read it here. Today, I want to talk specifically about how COVID has affected my business as a family day care adviser.

How COVID has affected my business

How COVID has affected my business as a family day care adviser

In more ways you can possibly imagine! And that is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Like many business owners, COVID stopped me in my tracks. 

Like you, I work hard to achieve my vision. There are so many tasks to juggle, things to think about, jobs to be done, people to talk to, systems to create, clients to help – the list goes on. It can get overwhelming, hard, and downright busy at times. But, it’s not like we don’t love what we do; that’s why we do it, right?

When I started this business, I started with an already established client base, which was wonderful, but it meant I hit the ground running. That looked like working at nights and on weekends, which I’m sure you can relate to. I tried to do it all at once, just as you have probably tried to do as well. And, maybe also like you, I had a family to attend to – I was a mother to a child and I wanted to be good to her. 

So when COVID came along, it stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t go and visit clients, which was the core way my business operated. How could I train staff, or work with service providers to improve their businesses if I couldn’t go to see them? My business came to a screeching halt.

I had a period of feeling low and lost, and then I decided to use the time for some reflective practice, trying to find the ‘silver lining’. First, I had to change my business model to move online. That in itself has worked out great, because I can still do what I love – which is helping to grow the FDC industry. In addition to that, COVID has affected my business in three further ways. Here they are:

1) It gave me time to work on my professional development

I knew from the onset that I wanted to ‘influence’ the sector. Early childhood is sacred and education and care is my passion. FDC was the intersection of my ‘two worlds’, professionally speaking. I believe we have a real opportunity to make early childhood great which, in my opinion, includes supporting and educating parents. Even if only for a short period of time, we can  make sure they get the message of how important early childhood is to inspire them to do the best they can. 

As professionals in the FDC industry, we need to develop the knowledge and skills to get that message across effectively. I hold qualifications, we all do, but that’s not where I got my ‘real’ skills from. I got them from self-education. I consider myself to be a life-long learner, and find ‘snippets’ everywhere to build on. 

For example, when I was younger, I worked in bars in the evenings to make ends meet. I once had a manager say to me, “Remember! People like to hear their name.” For some reason, and I didn’t recognise at the time, but that was a ‘snippet’ which I built professional development around. What did that look like? In one of my roles in long day care, I had over 120 parents I needed to build relationships with. I made sure that I knew each parent’s or carer’s name. For me, doing that was an important aspect of my professionalism. It resulted in parent’s feeling welcomed and included. 

Now, in my role as an FDC adviser, I have provided many ‘snippets’ for educators and service providers to build their professional development around. I hope you take advantage of them, because a ‘snippet’ can set you on a path of discovery. Never underestimate it. 

2) It helped me focus on projects I had been meaning to do for long time

Another example of how COVID has affected my business is by giving me the chance to deep dive into some ideas I had put off because I had been too busy to work on them. I’ve got to say, I got so much done, more than I thought. I’m still not finished, but wow! I am so proud of what I’ve created during this period.

I have thrived in this quiet season. I had so many balls in the air, so to speak, that needed finessing. I was able to look at each project for its own merit – my online courses and policies and procedures are what I am most proud of. They are the products I have developed that I believe will help me achieve my goal in influencing change for the betterment of children, and the family day care sector. 

3) It gave me time to reflect on how far I have come. 

After I got over my initial anxiety of having my business come to a stop, I began reflecting on how I became to be where I am today. 

I have a community of 4,000 followers overall, a 98% rate of getting people through the approval process, I’ve saved countless services from closures and sanctions, and I’ve helped improve quality standards.

Wow! I am proud of myself and what I have created. I have never felt better about what I do than right now in this present time. 

So, that’s how COVID has affected my business. Here in Victoria we are just locking down again. I am not freaking out as much this time, because I know I am going to have another opportunity to work on my business and make it stronger.

What is the vision you have for your business on the other side of COVID? How can you use this time for self-reflection and self-education so you can build the business of your dreams while making a positive impact on the lives of the children in your care?

Please take time to look at my website to find things that may help you. All of my videos on YouTube are free, I have a free Facebook group you can join, and I have a free newsletter you can subscribe to that I always try to make informative and educational. Let’s come out of this better than ever.

Wishing you happy business x 

Setbacks and Silver Linings in Your Family Day Care Business

One of the silver linings to appear during this pandemic is how much respect early childhood educators now have for the work we do. We have now been recognised as heroes, because not only were we at the frontline during a global health crisis, we also proved how vital we are to the economy because we enabled families to participate in the workforce in their own essential roles. 

Additionally, parents are far more informed about what we do as educators. We create a stimulating learning environment for children, as well as helping them thrive and meet their educational milestones. Families, the community, and the government no longer just see us as babysitters.

However, there is no doubt we’ve taken a set back. Just like all businesses at this time, we have felt the financial strain this pandemic has caused. And while this has been tough for all of us, I think we can come back even stronger than before.

Why? Because we now have the recognition we deserved before. And, I think we can each use this to our advantage to build the business of our dreams. We need to leverage this newfound respect and use our marketing and branding to help us make a bigger impact on families, the community, and the government.

I’ve recorded a short video about this, and I am putting together some more free content to help you market your family day care business. So, check out the video here, and watch this space for upcoming tips and resources on how to brand yourself now that we are (hopefully) over the worst of COVID-19.

Tips for Observations in Family Day Care

Conducting anecdotal observations assist family day care educators to create a plan to ensure each child’s needs are being met. However, this process can be challenging and time-consuming, especially for educators who are working alone. This article offers a few quick tips to help you develop your own anecdotal documentation system. 

Now, before I share my tips about anecdotal observations, I wanted to mention the benefits of completing a milestone checklist for each child that is enrolled in your program. Conducting a milestone check gives you a starting point to work from. You’ll know what a child’s needs are, as well as what their strengths may be. This is important because it will help you to develop an authentic educational program. Once the program is implemented, anecdotal observations are a great way to help that program evolve to meet the needs of each child and keep them engaged.

You can download a developmental checklist here 

Anecdotal observations provide snippets of each child. The value of keeping anecdotal records come when you do your reflection, because you will see the themes and threads appearing in your notes for each child that will help you identify their needs, interests, and abilities. Additionally, they help you meet the education and care legislation around you as an educator.

Here are three tips that have worked for me:

1) Avoid using templates to record your anecdotal observations. They are rigid and restrictive and don’t give you enough room to develop program strategies and creative ways to help each child. Sure, you can use prompts to guide you, but don’t limit your notes to a small box.

I follow the Incited Media process for my journals, which encourage using as many pages as I need to brainstorm and plan, rather than using a planner or templates  that only allow a  certain amount of room for your notes each day. You can find out more about the Incited Media process here.

2) Always have a pen and Post-It notes handy. When I was an educator, I carried a pen and Post-It notes with me all the time so I could write down observations. For example, I would note down the initials of the child and write things such as:

“Completed an 8 piece puzzle. Was engaged.”

The next day I might write, “Asked for an additional puzzle.”

Another day, “Stayed at the water activity for ten minutes.”

If you stick these notes in a notebook or journal, when it comes time to do your reflection you can see the child’s interests, abilities, what kept them engaged, and their skills. Then you can make a plan for moving forward. For example, in this case it might be to provide more problem solving or sensory activities.

3) Snap a photo: When working alone, a really quick way to record an anecdotal observation is by using your phone to take a quick photo. Then when you have a moment, you can print it out and stick it in your journal and jot down a few notes. I use a Sprocket printer that is very small and handy, and fits in my pencil case or handbag (you can check it out here )

The thing I love about photos is they add a visual element to my notes, which is more stimulating to look back through opposed to only reading heaps of text. 

There are some quick tips for you to help save you time with your reflections, and to meet the requirements around the education and care legislation. If you have any tips of your own, I’d love you to share them in the JPS Facebook group. Please feel free to share this post with your team.

For more information, you can download my free PDF 

More resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMd4QMQHaZM

Family Day Care Educator Survival Guide (Downloadable) developed by me. Tips, strategies and brainstorm your way to success with this easy to use guide. 

https://jpsadvisers.com.au/product/downloadable-fdc-educator-survival-guide/

Recommended text books: 

Preschool Teacher: Anecdotal Observations: Write over 450 anecdotes in one book https://amzn.to/2T7e8Kq

Teacher Anecdotal Record Notebook: A logbook of student assessment observations 

https://amzn.to/2zB8sBs

Focused Anecdotal Records Assessment: An Observation Tool with a Standards-Based Focus

https://amzn.to/361ANwC

Book a ‘Learn and Know’ session with me here https://app.clickfunnels.com/for_doma…

Read the JPS blog here: https://jpsadvisers.com.au/blog/

Check out the JPS Approved Provider Governance Course: https://connect.jpsadvisers.com.au/st…

Check out my other resources here: https://jpsadvisers.com.au/shop/

Find out more about JPS Family Day Care Advisers: https://jpsadvisers.com.au/

My Top 3 Influences As An Educational Practitioner

Sometimes we come across a person, an idea, or a piece of content that affects the choices we make and the path we follow. I recently created a YouTube video on the JPS Family Day Care Advisers channel (that you can check out here) where I discussed my top 3 influences as an educational practitioner. In the video, I talk about my history as an educator and how each of these influences shaped my career.

I wanted to write a blog post to link you to each of them because I think they could all really help you too . So, whether you are a service owner, part of the leadership team, or an educator, here are my top 3 influences as an educational practitioner:

1) EPPE: The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) project was the first major European longitudinal study to investigate the effects of pre-school education. The study looked at a sample of 3000 children between the ages of 3 and 7 years. The findings were that children had better social and intellectual outcomes if they were cared for in a warm interactive environment, and solidified the importance of home learning.

This EPPE project fueled my passion for helping educators and service providers, because I wholeheartedly believe family day care gives children the best start in life possible.

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001918.htm

2) Reciprocal Relationships. Once I learnt more about reciprocal relationships, and embedded those learnings into my practice, I became a much better educational practitioner. 

Why? Because understanding these principles enabled me to build relationships based on respect, equity, and fairness with families and children. Subsequently, I was also helping children to build meaningful interactions and social competence.

This guide from ACECQA outlines how reciprocal relationships align with Quality Area 5 and gives you tips to build a foundation for reciprocal relationships into your practice.  

https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/acecqa/files/QualityInformationSheets/QualityArea5/QualityArea5OrangeRelationshipsWithChildren.pdf

3) The Education Paradigm: This TED talk, by Sir Ken Robinson, explains how our current industrial educational system was developed before the radical changes we’ve seen in technology, and how it does not allow for our children to be able to cope with thinking at a higher level. In other words, rather than being taught how to think, children are being taught what to think.

Robinson argues that our archaic educational structure, which was developed in the 19th century, is too standardised and has a clear focus on conformity. He suggests that in order to keep students engaged, we must stimulate divergent thinking and create unique and customised learning to enable each individual to thrive.

The Education Paradigm has such a powerful message, and really challenges us as practitioners to think about the difference we can make if we embrace the opportunities we are now presented with as education becomes more globalised and inclusive.

https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

I’d love to know what influences you’ve had on your journey. What inspires you to be a better family day care provider?

Jodie

P..S. You can watch my video on this topic here:

Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss any of my free training I do there every week.

3 Resources To Register As An Educator With A Family Day Care Service In Australia

If you are a qualified educator and are not currently working, you may be considering registering with a family day care service.

The current situation means many parents are working in essential services such as grocery stores and health services, and family day care will enable them to continue working while their children are being cared for in a home environment away from crowded childcare centres. This is because family day care educators work from home and care for only a small number of children.

Here are three resources to help you set up:

Printable Home Checklist

This home assessment checklist get it here, is what an educator working from home caring for children needs to achieve and maintain in order to meet safety requirements for children under the National Quality Standards.

Business Plan Template for Family Day Care

Business planning gives you direction and assists you to avoid any potential unforeseen issues. Business planning will:

  • Identify your strengths and what sets you apart from your competitors, therefore informing your marketing and promotional material
  • Identify your weaknesses, allowing you to be prepared for risks or develop a professional development plan for yourself
  • Identify your threats, what are your competitors offering? Who is your client demographic; education? employment?
  • Identify your opportunities, where you are placed in your market, 

This business planning guide has been created with family day care educators in mind and will set you on the right path for establishing, reviewing and growing your business.

The cost is $14.99

You can download it here: https://jpsadvisers.com.au/product/business-planning-template/

Online Learn and Know Sessions with JPS

Consultations with family day care expert Jodie Signorino, from JPS Family Day Care Advisers cost $35.00 and run for 30 minutes to discuss and get advice for your specific circumstances

Book your session here

For more information on family day care in Australia, please head to the JPS Family Day Care Advisers Website:

https://jpsadvisers.com.au/

Who Is The ‘Accidental Hero’ at JPS?

I know that making the decision to start a family day care business can be scary. It is a big commitment, and the amount of information you need to take in can be overwhelming. So, when JPS released the Approved Provider Online Training Program, we knew it was going to be a great resource for people who were going through the application process. But what we didn’t realise was how useful this program was going to be for established service providers.

Let me explain how the Approved Provider Online Training Course has become an accidental hero here at JPS.

The Approved Provider Online Training Course is an online video training program participants complete at their own pace. It includes a workbook that outlines scenarios supervisors and coordinators may be faced with when they attend an educator’s home, including policies and procedures not being followed.

The person completing the course must come up with a strategy for how each situation must be handled. For example, which legislation needs to be referred to, what extra training the educator may need, any disciplinary action needed, and follow up monitoring and mentoring that may need to take place. Each participant gets a certificate at the end of the training, signed by me, a recognised industry expert.

Now, the reason why the program has become an accidental hero, is because it is also an excellent tool to use in the professional development of coordinators and nominated supervisors, even if your business has been running for a while. By having a practice run through these scenarios, your staff will be better prepared to handle challenging situations quickly and effectively. That will help them be more confident in their role, and will give you peace of mind knowing potential risks to your service have been mitigated.

Additionally, given that your business is required to provide regular professional development opportunities for your team, the JPS Approved Provider Online Training Course is a perfect refresher training course that is presented by a recognised family day care expert (me!). And, just imagine how good having a certificate of completion on each of your team members’ files will look when the department audits your service.

If you want to check out the JPS Approved Provider Online Training Course, take a look here https://connect.jpsadvisers.com.au/start-your-own-family-day-care-service

Jodie