There are many career paths in childcare.
When you start your career in childcare, you’ll need to know whether you want to work in an established Daycare Centre or a Family Daycare.
Australia is blessed with an incredibly robust childcare industry. As more mothers enter the workforce and seek to develop their own careers, the demand for childcare continues to grow.
Entering a career in childcare is a good choice, with a strong employment outlook and plenty of opportunities for advancement. When you earn your childcare qualifications and set out on your career journey, you’ll find that you need to make some serious choices about where and how you work, and who you work for.
Getting a good start in your childcare career is important, as your early years of experience will play a large role in determining the type of roles you can get later on in your career. Starting out in a respected childcare facility that has a good reputation will allow you to have a good entry on your resume and give you the power of choice when it comes to future roles.
In Australia, there are two main paths for childcare workers who wish to enter a career in daycare. There are several differences between the two, which are outlined below.
The Differences between a Daycare Centre and Family Daycare
A Daycare Centre is an established business with a commercial address that is dedicated to childcare. It usually has its own building, classrooms, restrooms and an outdoor play area that is specifically designed to cater to a large number of children.
Family Daycare operations are usually operated out of a person’s home. This doesn’t detract from their effectiveness or the quality of care children receive, however the difference in available resources can be significant.
Most Daycare Centres have their own building or part of a building that is designed for childcare purposes. They are often located in commercially-zoned areas, which for an employee may present some transport and parking challenges.
Family Daycare is almost always operated out of a home. This means that you will be working out of the same place that someone lives their out-of-work lives, and you’ll need to act accordingly. Whereas everyone leaves a Daycare Centre at night, in a Family Daycare, the owner will stay behind, as it’s their home.
A major advantage to working in a Family Daycare is that it’s easy enough to establish and operate your own once you have some experience and knowledge about the requirements. If this is your ultimate goal, then seeking work in a Family Daycare once you earn your qualifications may be a good option for you.
Resources and Facilities
There are significant differences in the available resources and facility design between a Daycare Centre and a Family Daycare. Because a Daycare Centre often serves a larger number of children, and is established as a commercial operation with greater expectations by parents, they will likely have more education, play and development resources available for you to do your job.
Access to basic things such as a stationery cupboard, ordering process for new toys and more advanced play facilities such as a playground can make working in a Daycare Centre far easier than a Family Daycare, where you may face challenges acquiring the things you need to do your job adequately.
The difference in facility design can also be significant. Because Family Daycares are operated out of a home, it is unlikely that you’ll have your own classroom to work with the children in, public bathrooms, or a large and fully equipped play area. Due to the different regulations surrounding private homes and commercial buildings, a Family Daycare may present significant unforeseen challenges.
Hours of Work
Most Daycare Centres provide long day care, which ranges from 6:30am to 6:30pm. This means that if absolutely necessary, parents can leave their children with the centre for up to twelve hours at a time. Not all Daycare Centres offer this facility, however, so your experience may be different.
On the other hand, Family Daycares can be slightly more flexible to accommodate the needs of their customers. In some Family Daycare operations, out-of-hours child care services might be offered. There is a chance that a Family Daycare may require you to come in outside of normal work hours, and on weekends, to help care for children.
If working in a more flexible environment suits you, then a Family Daycare might be more appropriate. When offering your own Family Daycare services, it’s important to understand that some parents may expect this service, and that could be the key reason they chose Family Daycare over a Daycare Centre.
Depending on your location, the clientele might differ considerably between Family Daycare and Daycare Centres. Some Daycare Centres can be prohibitively expensive, which is often what drives people to establish their own Daycare Centre at a lower cost to parents.
Working in a Daycare Centre, clients are likely to have increased expectations as to the service you’re offering. They’ll want to ensure that the centre is very clean and a high number of resources and facilities are available.
For Family Daycare centres, parents are often looking for a trusted, reliable person to provide care for their child during work hours. The level of education and developmental assistance is often of secondary concern when compared to a caring environment.
Pursuing a role in Family Daycare will leave you very open to changing economic circumstances. Most Family Daycare operations will only take on an extra employee when legislative requirements force them to – the law states that childcare providers must employ a sufficient number of carers in ratio to children.
When you enter employment with an official Daycare Centre, you have many legal protections in your official contract. Many working relationships with Family Daycare operations are more casual. In a Daycare Centre in a part-time or full-time role you’ll earn sick days, leave and a specific period of notice prior to dismissal.
The choice depends on where you want to end up. If you’re absolutely sure a career in childcare is right for you, you may be tempted to take any job that becomes available after you’re qualified. Try to be discretionary in your choice, and choose a place to work that will best position you to achieve your career goals.