Rethinking childcare options
Kelly Healey has noticed a change in how parents think about early childhood education as a result of COVID-19, particularly where children have been attending larger centres.
“People are reconsidering their options – especially those who have children with health conditions like asthma. Parents have said to me they’re worried about how many people go in and out of childcare centres in one day and the number of times children get sick generally.”
Kelly used to teach in a childcare centre with 60 children. Now she is a Visiting Teacher for Homegrown Kids, working with home-based educators who care for up to four children at a time.
Kelly says the small numbers in home-based care settings is a major appeal – and not just for parents. ECE teachers have also been asking her about opportunities for work.
“They’re concerned around going back – it [COVID-19] has made them realise the risk they take each day. I also think they want smaller groups and more one-on-one time with the children.”
Phones ‘off the hook’ with increased demand
Since lockdown began Stacey Dunn’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing with queries from working parents.
“They’re looking for alternatives to day-care for young children – everyone wants to make sure their kids are safe during the day.”
Stacey is a Senior Leader for Homegrown Kids. We were among the small handful of early childhood education providers allowed to be included in the ‘bubbles’ of essential workers during Alert Level 4.
“We were considered the safest in the ECE sector to provide care during lockdown, showing the Ministry of Education considers our environments to be able to be effectively managed in hygiene routines and by their very nature, less risk due to small numbers.
“Going forward, it’s also far easier for home-based educators to do things like contact tracing and maintain a small ‘childcare bubble’ – essential if we want to keep our communities healthy.”
Teachers rethinking career options
Stacey says there is a real opportunity for teachers to explore the realities of a new ‘normal’ and what they are prepared to compromise on in their work/life balance.
“For teachers considering a change of direction, they need to think about what they currently pay for childcare or before and after school care, the time spent away from the home, and the impact on that for their families.”
She says early childhood teachers are thinking about the lifestyle and monetary costs of the way they used to do things and weighing that up against a new way of working.
“Paying for parking, car running costs, not to mention sitting in traffic or travelling. Teachers are thinking about the benefits to themselves and to children of working from the comfort of their own homes, creating surroundings rich for children to learn in, in small, safe, clean environments.”