FOR family day care educator Celeste Barker, the children in her service are part of her family.
With three years’ experience running her own business – “Celeste’s Family Day Care” – and 23 years’ experience as an educator’s daughter, it comes as no surprise that she is passionate about the children in her care.
“I started babysitting and realised I had a passion for early childhood education and providing a high quality child care service,” Ms Barker said.
“I wanted my own service because I thought that I could create an environment that is warm, rich and interesting, which would create memories of laughter, joy and happiness.
“The thought of being able to provide this for children puts a smile on my face.”
At 23, Ms Barker is the youngest family day care educator registered under the Clarence Family Day Care Scheme and holds a two-year waiting list for her day care service.
However, from 1 July, changes to Community Support Program (CSP) funding will question the future of family day care throughout Tasmania.
The proposed changes will mean that family day care services seeking operation support funding under the CSP will now be required to meet a new set of eligibility criteria.
Ms Barker said a great scheme was an essential part of any day care service.
“The Clarence Family Day Care Scheme recently received a rating from the Education and Care Unit of ‘exceeding’ the national quality standard,” she said.
“This rating recognised the high quality of service the scheme provided and its ability to uphold national regulations and standards.
“However, funding affects a scheme’s ability to provide a service to educators, families and children, so if a scheme loses funding it will affect the affordability of day care services
“It is important that family day care stays affordable and that quality education services, such as mine, have schemes to support them and the families using their care.”
To help ensure the future of family day care, Ms Barker plans to attend the Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) Triennial Conference, which will be held at Luna Park, Sydney from 21-25 October this year.
“I want to attend the conference so I can network with other professionals within the early childhood education sector to help me and my service grow, as well as to keep family day care alive,” she said.
“It will also be nice to have professional conversations with like-minded people who are passionate about our future generation.”
In recognition of her passion and dedication to the family day care sector, Ms Barker was announced the winner of the 2014 FDCA award of excellence in family day care in southern Tasmania.
“I was very honoured the parents from my service nominated me, showing that they appreciate what I do for them and their children,” she said.
“Being nominated and receiving the award has made me more enthusiastic to provide a better quality service that is continuously improving.”
Run from home and situated on two-and-a-half acres of land, Ms Barker’s service provides children with ample opportunity to explore, question and learn about the world around them.
“The children have a fairy garden that was built from recycled material … it’s a place where they can eat their meals, talk to fairies in the trees and leave them mail, knowing that they will receive a reply the next day,” Ms Barker said.
“They also like to play on the pirate’s ship, hide in the cubby houses, dig in the large sand pit, ride the bikes and play with the toys and equipment.
“I receive very positive feedback from all my families and the children support me with their constant smiles and laughter.”
For more information about Celeste’s Family Day Care, contact Celeste Barker on 0438 720 575 or email email@example.com
For information on becoming a Family Day Care Educator, contact Clarence Family Day Care on 6245 8668.