The government has little to no regard of early childhood education and early childhood educators.
High-quality education in the early years is critical to child development, but our work is being undervalued.
My juggling act starts. I help parents settle their upset children. I answer questions from parents about bookings, their account, Child Care Subsidy and “why won’t my child sleep at night?” One mother comes in crying because she is stressed with life and I have to console her. And the phone starts ringing.
I try to find an ever elusive casual staff member to replace an educator who has called in sick. The phone rings again.
A family is visiting the centre after booking earlier in the week. I show them around. The phone rings again. Will someone please pick up the phone while I’m with this parent?
Paperwork, and lots of it! I have a business plan, action plans, and sustainability plans. I need to update the Quality Improvement Plan. The phone hasn’t stopped.
I do some work on the improvement plan that sets out our commitment to meeting the National Quality Standards. Since 2012 a government agency has been overseeing the standards that aim to improve outcomes for children. The expectations imposed by the government have increased but the wages haven’t, and neither has the professional profile in the community.More paperwork! Emails are answered and parent debts are checked and chased. I also review Storypark stories — the visual record for parents and educators of the children’s day — and approve each one. I also check the payroll system for accuracy.
I do more work on the improvement plan. In February, the National Quality Standards were changed, along with the assessment tool. It’s moved the goalposts for “exceeding” and “excellence” ratings. The intention is to improve and ensure quality outcomes for children because of the huge importance of early years learning, which is great. But the increased focus on documentation is stressing out time-poor educators.
A mum sticks her head in the office and talks about something that happened at home to her child that may have affected her mood.I struggle to the car with the folder of work from home and try to avoid the feeling that I have been chasing my tail all day. I still need to pee and I haven’t had lunch. The phone rings as I am leaving; the casual booked to work tomorrow now can’t do the shift.