Home-based service networks are organisations licensed with the Ministry of Education, and part funded by the Ministry, as early childhood education and care services.
There are many different home-based networks, some are run by franchises as part of a national network, some are run by charitable trusts or community organisations, others are run privately by companies or by individuals.
A ‘co-ordinator’, also called a 'visiting teacher' is a person who is employed to do the day to day work of managing the service and overseeing the home-based care arrangements. An ‘educator’ is the person who provides the hands-on care for a child or children in his/her home or in the child’s home.
1. A Process for Matching Educators, Families and Children
In home-based services there is no one size that fits all and quality services pride themselves on the provision of personal service, where the requirements of parents, children and educators are paramount.
Some services do this by initially carefully listening to the parent’s requirements and then matching them with available educators.
Parents are told at the initial enquiry that if there is no one suitable then even if there is space in the service, the service will be unable to provide a care arrangement.
If the parent and educator have a similar philosophy and values then that is a good starting point to build a professional relationship.
Parents need to have confidence in their home educator, that their educator will put the needs of their child and any other child to the fore.
The co-ordinators must know the educators well and feel assured that the educators will always put the interests of the children first.
The co-ordinators must make themselves available and the educators need to trust that the co-ordinator to come and help if there is a crisis during their working day, or to be available to visit while the educator attends a dental/doctors appointment etc.
Educators need to trust that they will be visited at least monthly by a coordinator who will spend time with them, show an actual interest in what they are doing, play with and get to know each child being cared for by the educator, and provide a sounding board and give helpful advice.
3. Provision of Equipment and Resources
Many services provide supplementary equipment to support a specific child’s interests, such as puzzles. All services should also provide equipment necessary for the educator to care for children e.g. cots, highchairs, etc.
Some services provide specific topic information with, for example, ideas for science teaching and learning.
Educators should feel able to ask for equipment and resources from coordinators.
4. Parent Input and Involvement
Parents should feel welcome and comfortable within the home of the educator. They should be supported to stay and to visit anytime during the hours that their child is booked to attend.
An annual or bi-annual independently run Parent Survey should be offered to families so they have opportunity to give confidential feedback to the service on its quality and their experiences of it.
Regular meetings should be organised for the coordinator, educator and parents to plan for their child. (click here for a copy of the Individual Child Plan form/template used by educators)
Some services ask parents for feedback for the educators performance appraisal, and yet other services consult their parents on a wide range of topics.
5. Picking the Right People to be Involved in Your Child's Life
- Services have their own list of key attributes that make a good educator, you could ask the service what key attributes they look for in a good educator and think about how well this matches with your values and your expectations for the kind of person who will be caring for your child.
- You can ask the service to see the statistics it keeps on the numbers of educators who apply to join and whether and why they are successful or not - this will let you know if the service is picky and picks only the best people to be educators.
- Educators are chosen for several reasons. They need to be passionate about the education and care of young children. They need to understand the differences in the roles of parents and educators, ie they need to be a step removed from the child. They need to be willing to learn and understand that all children are different and they wish to be professional in their practice.
Co-ordinators or Visiting Teachers
- A co-ordinator needs to be a registered and qualified early childhood teacher, to understand that while all educators will do things differently the outcomes for children should be and are the best they can possibly be.
- Co-ordinators are the professional leaders of the network and therefore need to display good interpersonal skills, clear communication skills and good listening skills.
- Co-ordinators need to understand that there is a fine line to walk between professional and personal relationships. If this becomes blurred it may be difficult to deal with professional situations, such as the inadequate performance of an educator.
Acknowledgement: Thank you to Jane Couch (former joint-owner of the Hutt Valley Family Daycare Association) for informing these guidelines.
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