Since starting up her own Family Day Care business 15-years ago, Alison Burns hasn’t looked back. She was able to care for her own children as they grew up while also making an income educating and caring for others aged 0-12.
“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,” Ms Burns said.
Ms Burns is one of 12 Family Day Care educators in Eurobodalla. Each educator has created their own unique learning environment and educational program from their home. Eurobodalla Council’s Children’s Services coordinator Louise Hatton said Family Day Care was a popular option for families and more educators were needed to keep up with the demand.
“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.”
Family Day Care educators are bound by the same laws and regulations as childcare centres, with Eurobodalla 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.
Starting up a business can be overwhelming, but Ms Burns said it was worth the effort.
“The paperwork was the biggest challenge for me, but it’s only as hard as you make it,” she said.
“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 their own work hours and the ages of children they take on. They can work with groups of up to seven children at a time.
“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.
“We all offer different services, which can depend on the families and what works for them.
“There’s educators who are nature-based and get out quite often and others that stay in depending on the interests of the families.”
Ms Burns said Family Day Cares offer programs of learning: “It’s not a babysitting service”.
“It is a career opposed to a hobby as some people see it,” she said.
“If you’re passionate about children, you will love it.”
Ms Burns tailors her learning program to the interests of the 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 laughed.
“As much as I teach them, they teach me. Kids have such different interests – some I have never heard about!”
Ms Burns loved the flexibility to go on 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.
For anyone interested in starting their own Family Day Care, contact Council’s Children’s Services team: ChildrensServices@esc.nsw.gov.au or call 4474 7333. Start-up subsidies are also available before June 30. For more information on Family Day Care, visit Council’s website.
Above: Alison Burns started her Family Day Care business in Dalmeny 15-years ago.