Monday, January 13, 2014

How to set up a family day care in Australia: The registration process

So for the past couple of months, I’ve been swimming in a sea of paperwork and administration.

It seems a major factor that will enable you to qualify setting up a family day care is the ability to stay afloat in the ocean of forms, assessments, policies, guidelines, and lots and lots of reading.

I feel like I’m back at university all over again.

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The road to setting up a family day care is truly not for the faint-hearted.

Thankfully, experience has allowed me to gain the uncanny ability to sieve through the bureaucratic jargon and terminology to extract the key essentials. Plus the support team at my local Family Day Care network have been awesome at guiding me and helping me navigate through the whole process to get me registered.

If you are considering the possibility of setting up your own family day care or just would like a glimpse into the process behind the set up of a family day care, here is an outline of the administrative process I had to go through to get registered…

The four stages in getting registered as a family day care educator

Stage 1: Application

  • Initial interview and environment check – Following an initial phone and email enquiry, an educator support officer organised to come out and see me at my home for a introductory chat to kick things off and to do a thorough walk-through the house to note down any key changes that will need to be made.
  • Application and assessment forms – I then needed to fill out and return two forms to get the formal process for getting registered in place:
    1) An Application Form, which is a pretty standard document to capture my personal particulars and register my intention to set up a family day care; and…
    2) A Self-Assessment Form, this was a more comprehensive set of questions to gauge my understanding and commitment level to setting up a family day care. The questions they asked include: How would you go about making parents feel confident to enrol their children in your family day care? How would you set up a stimulating environment for children in your home? If your children become jealous how will you help them to handle their feelings?
  • Second Interview – This was a more in-depth sit down session with one of the educator support officers for them to get to know me further, get an understanding of my background and values to essentially assess what kind of person I am on personal level. It was a fairly relaxed session, over coffee in my house while the children were napping.
  • References – I also needed to provide one referee who has observed me with children.

Stage 2: Training

  • Orientation – After the initial application process, I attended the orientation session organised by the service. It is quite an intensive session covering things like government regulations and policies, child protection issues, and setting up a play & learning programme for children.
  • Business Workshop – This is another intensive session to cover off all the administrative matters in managing the family day care business, including enrolment procedures, attendance records, fee schedules, parental consent forms, incident report forms etc.
  • Health, Hygiene and Nutrition Training – This is a self-paced learning package where I had to read up on some polices, then complete an assessment test. Most of it was common-sense stuff, about maintaining cleanliness, proper food handling and what healthy foods to prepare for children.
  • Play Session – I was invited to attend one of the play sessions organised by the family day care service to observe the types of activities and environments they have set up for children. This was a fun session as we were encouraged to bring our own kids to the session and Nathan had a blast with the wide range of toys and activities there.
  • Family Day Care Home Visit – I was given a contact for a fellow family day care educator in my area to visit so I could observe how she runs her family day care and get some practical ideas to apply in my own home.
  • National Education and Care Regulations – I also had to read up on the relevant government regulations and complete a competency assessment to show that I was across the key regulations related to education programmes & practices and children’s health & safety requirements.

Stage 3: ‘Fit and Proper’ Checklist
Next I had to go through a whole checklist of things to tick off and have in place to ensure I was ‘fit and proper’ to run a family day care.

  • Police Clearance Certificate
  • Working With Children Screening
  • First Aid Training
  • Food Safety Training (a council requirement for running a business where I am required to prepare and handle food for others)
  • Food Business Registration (formal registration with the council as a business where I will be preparing and handling food)
  • Public Liability Insurance (necessary to have in place once I start having other children under my care)

Stage 4: Final Check
And finally, the educator support officer came to do a last run through of my home to ensure I’m all good to go, checking that:

  • I had sufficient toys and play equipment for the children
  • Windows in areas accessible to children have safety glass installed
  • All cleaning and poisonous substances are kept away
  • Knifes and sharp objects are inaccessible to children
  • I have a first aid kit, kept securely away out of reach from children
  • Childproof handles/locks are placed on cupboards and doors inaccessible to children
  • Childproof handle is installed on hot water tap in the sink used by children
  • Any potentially dangerous plants have a protective barrier in place (we had chilli plants which we protected with chicken wire)
  • There is a sandpit with sufficient shade over it (ours is currently a work-in-progress, but the officer was alright seeing that we had started working on it)

(Other areas that would need to be checked but were not relevant in our home include the swimming pool, animals and pets, and the shed or workshop)

And with all that, I am finally good to go!

This is probably all boring stuff to most folks out there, but hopefully someone out there who is looking into the possibility if setting up their own family day care might find this helpful.

Now comes the nerve-wrecking part, waiting for my first client. Fingers crossed that I do not have to wait too long and that I will get someone with a good fit.

 

This is an exciting new venture I am embarking on to set up my own family day care. Throughout this journey, I will be sharing about this project, the application process, what I’ll be learning from the training courses, my home set up, craft and activity ideas and other related bits and pieces. Through this, I hope to support and connect with other fellow day care educators and also perhaps provide a little more awareness and insight for parents (and parents-to-be) on the set up and running of a family day care. You can follow along my updates on my blog under the family day care tag.

(Note: This information is based on my personal experience in setting up a family day care in my local council in Western Australia. Specific requirements and procedures may vary in different councils and states so please check with your own local Family Day Care Service for more details)

6 comments:

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    1. Oops! Thanks for pointing out my typo

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  2. I'm curious - is the sand pit a compulsory thing or is it just because you had one they had to check it?

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    1. Hello, Vanessa! For my family day care scheme I joined, they consider a sandpit to be a necessary play area. According to the officer I worked with, sand is one of the most versatile play material, and there is so much imagination and learning kids can derive from it... e.g. constructing stuff, pretend cooking, and learning a bit of science even. But they were flexible in the fact that my sandpit was a work-in-progress as long as they could see we were working toward having it in place for the kids down the track.

      This might vary depending on different councils/areas/states, though. But think it's a good thing to have in the backyard anyway for our own kids.

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  3. It was very interesting reading your journey to opening a family child care home. I live in Michigan, USA and our start up process doesn't come close to the thoroughness you described for your agency. Most of the higher quality standards you described are all voluntary here in Michigan. I've spent the last 2-3 years learning about and implementing those higher standards. I am always eager to learn what other states/countries require. It looks like all the kids in your area will be safe and have a great time in your day care setting. Enjoy your new career! I love it! (30 years strong!)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment! I really enjoy seeing how things I share here goes out and the connections it makes across the globe. My support officer at my local family day care network told me that the procedures and requirements have really become more and more stringent over the years. When she first started out as a family day care educator herself 20 years ago, it was literally just a walk through, filling out some forms and that was pretty much it. I have no idea what the picture of my life would be in 30 years, but I'll hope I'll continue to be as passionate about it as you evidently are even now.

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