Who and where your child is cared for might just be one of the most important decisions you make in their early years. We all want our children to be safe, nurtured and receive the best start in their education and development. As a teacher for home based childcare in Auckland, I thought it would be helpful to tell you some of the benefits of home based care so you can decide if it is right for your child.
In-home childcare is the fastest growing type of early childhood education in New Zealand. Time and time again research shows that group size and child to adult ratios are key factors in quality outcomes for children. Home-based care enables a close and trusting relationship between child and caregiver, fostering strong emotional development and attachment.
Whether your child is cared for in your own home or at someone else’s place, there are many benefits:
- Your child’s individual interests and strengths can be followed based on small group sizes.
- Your child is able to build a secure attachment with one person based on the 1:4 ratio
- Your child’s usual home routine can be followed e.g. sleep and meal times.
- There is a greater flexibility in hours – this may be particularly helpful for shift workers or people with particularly early or late starts like retail workers.
- There is less stress of moving children around regularly – If the care is in your own home, there is no waking a tired child and going out in the car to rush to a centre, they can wake in their own time and have breakfast at their leisure.
- It works well for mixed-aged families, as your baby and four year old child can be cared for together. Also, if you have an under five and an over five your caregiver could care for your school-aged child after school.
- Learning is catered to your child’s needs due to the small group ratios, rather than trying to meet the needs of a large group of children.
- Your child can have more ‘natural childhood’ experiences like going out for spontaneous walks and outings, take part in baking biscuits, collecting the mail or hanging out washing.
- You can still socialise and interact with the community as your children can go to swimming lessons, music groups, playgroups or sports during the week.
- You can choose a caregiver that speaks your home language to your child or is of your own faith to follow on with your beliefs from home.
Who should care for my child?
While home based care providers can certainly assist in matching you with caregivers in your area, the right person may be right under your nose. Did you know that a family member, friend or trusted neighbor can care for your child and receive all of the support that a paid nanny or educator would receive? The Ministry of Education offers funding to provide support from an early childhood teacher to your chosen caregiver with your child’s learning and development. You are still eligible for subsidies such as the Work and Income childcare subsidy, even if the caregiver is related to the child.
Why link up with a home based care service?
Home based care providers vary greatly so it is important to do your research and ask lots of questions. Every provider should have registered and trained teachers who will visit your child and their caregiver. Police checks are carried out as well as health and safety checks. You can also access the Education Review Office (ERO) report, which is a government assessment of the performance of all early education establishments in the country.
A quality service will provide;
- Monthly visits from a trained early childhood teacher, who together with the caregiver can identify your child’s strengths, interests and abilities and plan for their own individual learning on a one on one basis.
- The flexibility to choose your own caregiver if you wish and to make your own conditions around wages and working hours.
- Guidance on interviewing a caregiver and contracts.
- Quality educational resources to match your child’s learning and interests.
- Many provide a monthly written learning journey which documents your child’s developing skills, interests and strengths for the month as well as ideas and resources for the next steps for learning. This varies from service to service. At Footsteps we provide a learning journal folder, similar to a portfolio or life book, which is added to each month by the teacher, caregiver and family.
What are some of the questions I should ask my home-based provider?
- Are there any fees or admin costs for being part of your service?
- How long have you been established as an organisation?
- How often will your teacher visit and for how long?
- What sort of resources can I expect to be provided?
- Can I access subsidies such as Work and Income through you?
- How many hours a week does my child need to be enrolled?
- What information will I get as a parent on my child’s learning and progress?
- What support will my caregiver get?
- What benefits are there for my child’s learning, in being part of your service?
- How does your service differ from other services?
- Don’t forget to visit their website and read their ERO report.
Have you thought of becoming a caregiver?
Becoming a nanny or in-home caregiver can be a way to stay at home with your own child whilst earning an income caring for other children and gaining a more social environment for your child. There may be friends from your coffee group, play group, friends of family who would love to have someone they already know care for their child. If not you can sign up to a home-based provider so families can be put in touch with you in your area. Look for a service that gives you the choice of setting your own rates and conditions and gives you the choice of organising the payment of wages or having your own arrangement with the other parents.