Setting the foundation for quality practice in family day care

Loop Magazine Article –  Autum 2015 – Cathy Cahill

It all starts with an effective Educator Recruitment and Induction process

Over the last year the Family Day care industry have experienced a great deal of uncertainty and change. This has lead us to challenge our old thinking around what a coordination unit should look like. We have found there to be a strong correlation and connection between Family Day Care Educators being highly skilled and having constant and effective support from their coordination unit. This support can be in many forms but it has to start with a comprehensive Educator Recruitment and Induction Process. Thus giving Educators the best possible foundations which leads to the best outcomes for children.

As an organization FDCAQ has recently researched and created a recruitment and induction process to assist Coordination Units in the process of acquiring and maintaining high quality educators. We feel by highlighting the contemporary approach of focusing on the importance of the Recruitment and Induction Process to attract high quality educators opposed to the redundant thinking based on arbitrary Educator numbers is the correct thinking of establishing the future of Family Day care as a force in the Education and Care sector.

Coordination Units need to start to focus on understanding adult learning principles in their role of ensuring quality outcomes to children in an educator’s home environment.  By using these principles each Coordination Unit will gain a deeper understanding of best practice to help develop mentoring and support processes which enables the learner to develop dispositions for learning. These dispositions for learning are developed when coordinators work with an educator as equal partners and each party recognizes the skills, attributes and competencies they bring to any learning experience.

Knowles work on ‘Andragogy’ highlights 5 key learning principles for consideration when working with adult learners.

  1. Self-concept: As a person matures their self-concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being
  2. Experience: As a person matures they accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
  3. Readiness to learn. As a person matures their readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of their social roles with families, children and coordinators
  4. Orientation to learning. As a person matures their time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly their orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centeredness – hence the precedency toward the on the job learning.
  5. Motivation to learn: As a person matures their motivation to learn increases to an internal process – driven by own motivation to learn. (Knowles 1984: 12 in Smith, M 2002)

These principles align well with that of the more well-known theory of pedagogy applied to child learning principles. The role of the coordinator, once a person is deemed appropriate for the role of the educator is not a ‘teaching role’ but rather a mentoring and support role. Walking alongside the educators, supporting their capacity to build competency through professional development planning, resourcing and engaging in problem solving processes. This happens through a range of strategies, while face to face home visits are a key component of building an understanding of the educator’s practices this cannot be seen as the only or ‘best’ way to undertake this mentoring and support role.

So, what are some of the ways services actually ensure they can and do support educators?

Using an in-depth Recruitment and Induction Process ensures the coordination unit are selecting educators that support the ethos and philosophy of the service, have the suitable attributes, skills and qualifications. This process builds an Educator profile which contains knowledge about the educator, her/his family, the education and care environment and the arras Educators may need further Professional Development.

The development of a Professional Improvement Plan – this requires a collaborative process where both the educator and coordinator identify the current strengths and areas of support needed.

Family Day Care Educators are responsible for the all the day to day management of their home based service, this includes making decisions about the learning environment provided, managing the wellbeing and safety, implementing service policy and procedures, enrolment of families in the educator’s environment and although only required to hold or be studying towards a Certificate III qualification.

The above attributes are what each Educator needs to have to coordinate the day to day operations of their FDC business demonstrates that through the focus on quality recruitment and induction processes to attract applicants with the best skills and attributes. Also they need to be supported in a system with coordinators who are skilled and qualified in andragogy. Every Educator will play a significant role in the lives of the children’s in their care, this is why we need to get it right from the start.

FDC provides an environment for skilful, self-managed adults to demonstrate quality outcomes for children. This alone demonstrates the impact of a strong intentional recruitment and andragogy approach by coordination unit staff in supporting and recruiting educators.

Reference

Smith, M. K. (2002) ‘Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and anadragogy’.

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