Reflections on practice - How did the pandemic affect our Family Day Care Service?
How did your service respond to the challenges of evolving and constant level of information and advice?
The service was able to update families with the information that came through from the government at every instance that it was received. The Covid-19 policy and procedure was created immediately at the start of the changes and was kept updated with every government change. This was sent to all families and educators each time changes were made. Meetings between the service staff and educators became more frequent and were a time for not only updating of information but also an opportunity for discussion and reflection.
What has been the biggest change to your Family Day Care?
The coordinator was unable to undertake monthly face to face visits during the isolation period, the coordinator modified practices by conducting telephone and Skype visits which were both announced and unannounced. The educators sent through frequent photos and copies of their program more often during the period to the scheme office so that the coordinator was involved in knowing the program as much as possible and was able to give feedback and mentoring from a distance.
How did your health and hygiene practices change, and what will you take away from these changes?
Educators changed their sign in and sign out procedures with the parents being advised that they would need to drop off their children at the front door and leave. Educators had set up a sanitising station at the front of the house and parents were cleaning their hands before and after using the educator computer, iPad or phone for signing in and out electronically. Educators were happy to clean and sterilise in their own homes a lot more frequently and this even encouraged a lot of decluttering of services which was a positive outcome for some educators being able to minimise toys and resources to those that were at the stage and age of the children in care.
What practices were implemented to ensure safety and wellbeing of everyone at your Family Day Care?
Parents were not able to enter the educator’s homes during the period; this really did make the parents feel safe to send their children to the family day care home. We had a lot of enquiries from parents that were enrolled in childcare centres and were wanting to make the switch to family day care due to the pandemic, this was a really positive note as the pandemic has brought to light the positives in family day care as opposed to childcare centre based care.
Children were placed even further apart than normal at sleep time to effectively socially distance them and avoid any cross contamination. The other thing that educators noted is that instead of sharing food at lunch time, the children were given their own plates and so in order to encourage fine motor skills these tong activities were carried out via play activities instead.
What new practices and strategies will you continue at your Family Day Care?
We enjoyed the fact that we could incorporate Zoom to see each other, no matter where each educator is located. It helped us to think more creatively about future meetings. We will be implementing the continuation of Zoom video at each meeting. The coordinator will bring a computer to each meeting and allow for those that are unable to get to the meeting location to attend via Zoom video. This is a way of encouraging more attendance at the meetings.
The cleaning practices will remain as vigilant as they have been throughout this period as it is important to remember that we are also keeping ourselves and our own families safe from the possibility of any virus coming into our home. I think this period has also taught the families to be more collaborative with their educators and how it is important to be checking in with people and simply ask the question “Are you okay?”. The educators have emerged from this period showing how resilient, strong and passionate they are about providing quality care and education to the children.
This pandemic hit some educators quite hard financially and as a result during this period I have seen a lot more creative ideas come through of how the educators have created their own resources and re purposed things in their environment to encourage learning and play. If we have learnt something it is that kids do not need a lot of toys in the environment to be happy in play. They do not need expensive toys. They need love, nurturing, safe environments and a place to just ‘be themselves’.