The coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the safe haven provided by family day care, where children are taught and cared for in small groups of seven or less in a home environment.
As parents worry about the difficulties of social distancing in schools with hundreds of students, and pre-schools or long day care centres with dozens of children, the comparative safety of family day care has come to the fore.
The figures speak for themselves – long day care numbers have been decimated during the pandemic, as parents working from home withdraw children at a rapid rate – while family day care numbers have remained relatively stable.
“We offer the lowest risk there can be,” said Peter Monger, manager of CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains’ Baulkham Hills Family Day Care, the largest provider of its kind in Sydney’s Hills and surrounding districts. “It’s simple mathematics – is it safer to be exposed to five children or 50? Our educators are limited to having no more than four children under school age, and three over school age. That makes a maximum ratio of one to seven – and that includes the educator’s own children.
The virus has made life difficult for everyone but it has given us the opportunity to champion smaller groupings with smaller risk.”
Long day care centres, which typically look after between 30 and 200 children, have lost 70 to 80 per cent of their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to widely reported industry statistics.
“We have lost only about 10 per cent,” Mr Monger said. “People understandably have been cautious, and they view family day care as a smaller group environment with less risk.”
The not-for-profit Baulkham Hills Family Day Care has been operating for 40 years and caters for around 350 kids on any given day, spread far and wide around the Hills district.
Its 54 educators cover an area from Rouse Hill in the north to Parramatta in the south, from Cherrybrook in the east to Schofields in the west. It is an arm of CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
Mr Monger said it was important to raise awareness of the service because “some families may not fully understand the benefits of this type of education and care”.
Family day care caters to children aged from six weeks to 13 years.
Educators are trained, supported and monitored by professional staff.
They provide a fun, play-based educational program tailored to the individual interests and needs of each child.
For more information, visit: https://hillsfamilydaycare.com.au/