This month two children in Australia have died in unrelated tragedies while at family day care Moorooka and Carramar.
The response on social media was swift and predominantly compassionate as best wishes and prayers were posted for the poor little souls lost and their families.
But there was also some blaming going on. Many, many comments of “I would NEVER send my children to Family Day Care!” and the backlash was intense with the majority of the outraged mothers defending their Family Day Care centres.
Whether or not to put your child into any form of childcare is a debate that rears its ugly head regularly. It’s a personal parenting decision sometimes based on choice, sometimes based on circumstance and sometimes based on sheer necessity. It is rarely a decision that is made without consideration and emotion so it is understandable that parents feel compelled to defend their choices [whatever they may be] when they feel challenged.
If you have been wondering about Family Day Care for your children, and are now concerned about the safety of that type of care, this is what I found out.
What is family day care?
Family Day Care [FDC] is an approved form of child care that is provided in the family day care educators own home. Family day care educators are early childhood education and care professionals, registered with a family day care service that is responsible for approving, supporting, training and advising its educators.
Family Day Care has operated in Australia for over 40 years and over 110,000 families use one of the 750 Family Day Care facilities nationally.
How is it similar to centre based child care?
- Family day care provides early childhood education and care services for children across Australia.
- Family day care operates under the same National Quality Framework (NQF) as other forms of childcare; incorporating national regulations, quality and qualification standards, educational frameworks and an assessment and ratings process.
- Parents are eligible to the same Federal Government Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate subsidies.
How is it different to other forms of child care?
- Your child’s education and care is provided by an individual educator who is an approved, early childhood education and care professional, operating within their own home.
- Educators work with small groups of no more than four children under school age.*
- Educators work in partnership with a local approved service who provide regular visits to monitor the children’s progress and to provide support.
* An educator may care for 3 additional school age children, outside of school hours.
I spoke with a local woman [who has asked to remain anonymous] who runs a Family Day Care centre and she had this to say:
“Family Day Care (FDC) is a service we provide from home. We are under the Department of Education & Children’s services just the same as Child Care centres and are required to have all the same qualifications & certificates, clearances etc to look after children. We must abide by the National Quality Framework too. It’s pretty strict – but you want it to be when looking after other peoples children! It’s all about protecting those precious little people.
The ratio is 1:4 for children under 5yrs… I can have 4 children under the age of 5 and 3 more from school ages 5 to12 years (so a total of 7 at one time). The DECS Guidelines are very strict, just like a childcare centre… if not more strict to be honest. We are monitored each month and have safety assessments of our properties annually. You go through A LOT of steps before getting approval to have children in your home. The minimum qualification requirement is Cert III in Children’s Services, First Aid, Child Abuse Mandated Notification Training, Asthma & Anaphalaxis training, CPR annually & more. Everyone in my house has to have police clearances too (except my own children – but once they turn 18 they have to as well, of course)
We also have to adhere to the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority who implement the National Quality Framework.
It’s such a shame that rare incidents like these put a negative spin on FDC as it’s such a needed and valuable community service. Without FDC many families wouldn’t be getting care as it’s so hard to get their children into Childcare Centres these days due to too many numbers and such long wait lists.”
Care For Kids is a fabulous hub of information and their checklist is a great resource for those looking for suitable childcare of ANY sort.
Remember to trust your instincts!
Care For Kids also remind you to trust what your instincts are telling you. If you and your child feel happy with the carers and environment then there is a great chance the child care service will be a good fit for your family.
From our perspective at Mum Central, we say to always trust your instinct and do your research. With over 700 registered FDC providers in Australia, let’s not allow the odd one or two tarnish the experience for everyone else.