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					CAREERS IN CHILD

CARE

Contents
Child Care Traineeship................................................................................ 1 From the Horses Mouth............................................................................... 2 Footsteps to follow ...................................................................................... 5 Donna, Child Care Centre Director .................................................. 5 Janet, Child Care Coordinator .......................................................... 8

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Child Care Traineeship
What does a Child Care Traineeship involve?
Trainees work closely with a team of experienced staff in the care and education of children aged 0-6 years. Trainees assist in the development of programs for the children and in implementing indoor and outdoor activities to promote learning. The trainee also works closely with families.

What qualification will I get at the end?
If you successfully complete your Traineeship you will come out with a Certificate III in Children’s Services. This means that you have successfully completed your course work and have performed satisfactorily on the job.

How long does it take to do a Child Care Traineeship?
The Child Care Traineeship will take 12 months to complete.

What subjects should I have done at school?
Health English

Are there any other prerequisites?
You must be 18 years of age or older.

What is the weekly salary?
The weekly salary is dependant upon age and level of school qualification (according to the Penrith City Council Notional Agreement Preserving the Conditions of the Local Government (State) Award 2004).

Potential Career Paths:
Child Care Assistant Child Care Aid Early Childhood Teacher Child Care Centre Director

Highlights:
Meeting new people, working in a team of professionals, getting to work with babies and children, undertaking work of a practical nature, getting to learn about career opportunities in this field.

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From the Horses Mouth
What Our Trainees Have To Say
Raewyn, Child Care Trainee 2001
Raewyn had held administrative positions in the past when she successfully applied for a Child Care Traineeship with Penrith City Council. She had also been involved in many activities involving children on a volunteer basis. She had Coached 4 – 12’s Hockey Teams, worked as a volunteer Coordinator and Treasurer for a local Playgroup and Parent Helper at the local Primary School (helping with reading, maths, craft) as well as holding the position Officer with the Australian Air League leading children aged 9 to 16. Raewyn was 33 years old when she started her Traineeship in Child Care.

What are you doing now, Raewyn?
When I finished my Traineeship I applied for and was appointed to a temporary Child Care Assistant position with Council. I now have a permanent Child Care Assistant position (untrained position) with Penrith City Council. I went on to continue my studies and have just finished my Associate Diploma in Child Studies. My next goal is to obtain a Child Care Aid position (trained position) and I also intend to start my teaching degree at some stage in the future.

What were the highlights from your Traineeship?
The biggest highlight for me has been to work with the children and get to know the families. I have been able to watch the children develop in the time that I have been with them and have been able to develop a strong rapport with them. I had been out of the paid workforce for about 7 years to raise my family. The Child Care Traineeship gave me a stepping-stone back into paid work and into an area that I enjoy. There are career opportunities in Child Care. A Traineeship is only a start – you are then able to move onto better paid jobs in this field. By doing a Traineeship with Penrith City Council, I was able to go to a lot of in-house training. The Traineeship updated my own knowledge. I have first hand experience with children as I have a couple of children myself. I have enjoyed being able to impart my knowledge and experience to parents grappling with the same issues I have when my children were young.

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What was the course like?
I enjoyed doing the course. I attended TAFE every Thursday (except during school holidays). Being in the Centre I had access to information that made doing the assignments easier. There were about 24 modules covering subjects such as: Occupational Health and Safety Children’s Health Guiding Children’s Behaviour Food Handling Play Skills Nappy Changing

Any words of Advice?
If you are patient and enjoy children, have a go – regardless of your age. Council Centres are well equipped and provide lots of opportunities. I certainly have no regrets about doing it.

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From the Horses Mouth
What Our Trainees Have To Say
John, Child Care Trainee 2004
John found himself following in the footsteps of his sister, mother and grandmother when he accepted Penrith City Council’s offer to take up a Child Care Traineeship. John has had an interesting work background unrelated to his current Traineeship in Child Care. John had spent some time chasing his dream to be a professional soccer player (trying out for several clubs in England) and then installing satellite dishes for a well-known telecommunications company. A casual job as Santa Claus started John thinking that his natural talent for working with children might be something he should pursue.

Did you have any experience working with or dealing with children, John?
I don’t have my own children at this stage but when I was younger I would go to work with my mother during school holidays and help out at the Centre where she was employed. I went voluntarily and enjoyed it. So I have some familiarity with the working conditions and the nature of the work. I knew what I was getting into!

What are your highlights of the traineeship?
I enjoy watching the children develop and reach their milestones. It’s great to work with them as they really enjoy your company. I don’t know of anywhere else that you might work where a room full of your clients would scream your name with excitement when they see you each morning! Children need male role models in their lives and I can be one for them, it is especially important for the boys. As a male child care worker the experience is different for the children. I like to engage them in a lot of active play – we play soccer each day and do a lot of running.

What are the benefits of completing the traineeship?
It is good to get a regular paycheck – in some of my other jobs I wouldn’t do any work or get paid if it was raining. You get to work in a comfortable, home-like atmosphere, wear comfortable clothes and shoes and compared with my other jobs there is no heavy lifting involved – the heaviest lifting you might do will be to lift a big baby! It is also good to get to meet all of the parents – it’s a friendly people focused environment.

What are your career Aspirations?
I am looking forward to getting my Certificate III in Child Care and hope to get an Assistant’s job.

Any words of Advice?
It’s not all fun and games. This Traineeship would suit you if you enjoy the company of children and have a sense of humour – children love to hear you laugh. Have fun with them. You need to be easy going and able to go with the flow. You also need to appreciate the responsibility you have in this job. You can also learn a lot from the people you work with. If you like children and like a balance of interaction with the children and practical tasks then you should consider this type of work.
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Footsteps to Follow
Donna, Child Care Centre Director

An unlikely work background provided Donna with a range of skills that have helped her build her child care career over a 14 year period. “If someone had told me when I left school that I would one day be in charge of a child care centre and would be going to University I wouldn’t have believed them” Donna said. When Donna left school in Year 10 she had not been given a great deal of encouragement to pursue further study and didn’t receive career advice. Donna’s working life started in a factory where she was initially required to pack laundered uniforms. Donna went on to learn the administration processes behind the business. This involved meeting clients, measuring them, customer service (telephone and face to face), management of two staff and the budget. In her next job as a Shop Assistant in a Deli, Donna worked part-time hours and learnt about cash handling, customer service, food handling and food and personal hygiene. Looking back Donna can see that these jobs provided her with skills and knowledge that transferred to her role as a Child Care Director. However, Donna didn’t start as a Child Care Centre Director. Donna’s career in child care began when she was 30 years old, when she was appointed to a part-time Child Care Helper’s position at Kindana Child Care Centre working only 12 ½ hours per week. Only 1 month later Donna was appointed to the full-time position of Child Care Assistant. In these roles Donna was required to assist the trained staff to work with the children one on one and in small groups as well as prepare snacks and materials for activities and maintain general hygiene. Donna could see that there was certainly a career path if she was interested in undertaking further study. Donna knew that Penrith City Council had an Education Assistance Policy that would help her in getting her qualification by helping to pay her TAFE fees and give her time off to sit exams and study. In 1991 Donna started studying for her Associate Diploma in Child Studies at Werrington TAFE. Donna took a small break from her career in 1994 to take maternity leave. Donna was awarded her Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Studies). This meant that Donna was now able to apply for the position of Child Care Aide, a trained position and in 1995 Donna’s hard work paid off when she was appointed to the position of Child Care Aide at Tamara Child Care Centre. It wasn’t long after this that Donna was given the opportunity to act in the higher position of Director (1995). This helped Donna build her skills and experience. As a Director, Donna was in charge of the day-to-day operations of a centre providing care for approximately 30 children, with a staff of 10 people and a budget of approximately $250,000.

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Donna says: “If you had told me that I would one day be in charge of running a Child Care Centre and all that it involves I would not have believed you. But I gained the skills and knowledge gradually over time. My bosses over the years had been very supportive and had shared their knowledge with me.” In 1996, Donna needed to work part-time to help her achieve a balance between her work and family and took on a position of Part-time Child Care Aide with the Mobile Preschool. But by 1997 Donna was back and gained an appointment as a temporary Director of one of Council’s Mobile Pre-schools. Although it was only a 12-month opportunity it was long enough for Donna to show the management her capabilities. In May the next year Donna scored another career development opportunity when she was appointed to the position of Temporary Director for a Long Day Care Centre, for a period of 5 months, Only 7 months later Donna was appointed to the permanent position of Director at Werrington County Child Care Centre. Donna had gained experience across a variety of service types in just a few short years. Denise Gibson, Children’s Services Manager said: “Donna has had a great career. She has come up through the ranks so she understands all of the roles in a centre from the ground up. Donna is a great example to prove that you don’t have to start your career right when you leave school. Donna has taken her career one step at a time and at a pace to suit herself and her family. She is a valuable asset to Council and could work anywhere in the child care industry. Child care is the sort of area where a bit of maturity and life experience is really important. The skills you develop working in this field will not only help you in this career but often provide transferable skills for other areas. I would encourage anybody, whatever age to consider a career in child care if that is their interest.“ Ten years after completing her Diploma Donna’s thoughts turned to further education again. “I was 41 when I went to University. I had never imagined myself going to University. I did it because I wanted something to fall back on – I wanted a better qualification to enable me to stay competitive in the field. I know I will be working until I am 60 so I want a good job if I am going to work for that long. Now I am qualified to teach others about child care at TAFE!” Donna has taken another step forward in her career by recently graduating with a Bachelor of Teaching from the University of New England.

Has all of the hard work and the need to juggle family, work and study been worth it, Donna?
It’s been tough at times and sometimes the assignments were difficult but I have loved it and I would do it all over again. There were times when I was exhausted – I even fell asleep in class once! If I didn’t go through those difficult times, I don’t think I would appreciate where I am today as much.

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What role has council as an employer played in the development of your career?
My years of experience on the job have really helped with my assignments. You can see from my work history that I have experience across a range of child care services. I have also attended loads of training at Council and this has helped enormously with my assignments at University.

What advice would you give to others thinking about embarking on a career in child care?
Firstly, I would recommend that you get some experience before embarking on study – it doesn’t have to be paid work, volunteering is a great start too. If you find the idea of study daunting, get some on the job experience before you start – it will certainly help. I also believe that experience as an untrained person has made me a better and more understanding boss. Secondly, you can’t be afraid of dirty work. Alot of the work is hands on! You need to be prepared to get in and pull your weight with the less pleasant tasks such as nappy changing, toilet cleaning. The pay-offs outweigh the dirty stuff though – seeing the children in your care blossom over the time they are with you makes it all worthwhile.

Do you have ambitions to go even further, i.e. into a management role in Children’s Services?
At this stage I am content with being a Centre Director. I love the mix of hands on work, parent and child interaction and administration/management work. I like to be able to feel the sun and breeze on my face while I work. But who knows about the future!

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Footsteps to Follow
Janet, Child Care Coordinator
Who would have thought that a short stint as a casual Playvan Assistant for 15 weeks in 1984 would lead Janet to a 17-year career in Children’s Services. Janet was permanently appointed in 1985 to the position of Senior Assistant in the area of Before and After School Care working 20 hours per week. A little over a year later (January 1987) Janet applied for and was appointed to a position of Part-time Mobile Playvan Assistant. This role required Janet to work 20 hours per week and allowed her to spend time with her baby and still keep her skills in the workforce current. This was an interesting role requiring Janet to take the playvan service out to various areas meeting lots of parents in the district and in school holidays, worked on the Vacation Care Program. In 1989 Janet was promoted to the position of Part-time Mobile Playvan Coordinator where she became a Supervisor and took on the responsibility for the overall day to day operations of the Mobile Playvan Service. This position played an important role in new suburbs by sharing information and resources with parents of young children. Janet was also responsible for the establishment of other support mechanisms for parents in her area such as playgroups. 1989 was also the year that Janet began studying for a Certificate in Child Care Studies through Werrington TAFE. Janet valued the support given to her by Council’s Education Assistance Policy. She was able to attend her exams during working hours without any loss in her pay and was also able to take time off to study not to mention the financial assistance with Education Fees. Janet completed her Certificate in Child Care Studies in 1992 and decided soon after to continue on with her education through TAFE and start her Associate Diploma in Social Studies (Child Care). Again, Council supported Janet in her desire to obtain this qualification. Janet could see that the length of the course would be reduced significantly because she had already completed the Certificate level course. Janet gained her Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Studies) in 1993 and undertook further tertiary studies obtaining her Batchelor of teaching (early childhood) soon after. Career development opportunities also came Janet’s way when she was invited to act up in the more senior role of Child Care Centre Director’s role on a temporary part-time basis. Janet’s supervisory ability and organisation skills were put to good use when she was approached to act in the position of Out of School Hours Integration Coordinator for almost 2 years. This role enabled Janet to develop special skills relating to the care and support of children aged 5 – 18, some with moderate to severe disabilities. She was permanently appointed to this role in September 1997. During her career with Penrith City Council Janet has held down a variety of positions including Mobile Playvan Coordinator, OOSH Integration Coordinator and her current role of Children’s Services Coordinator. (Janet’s current role is a senior role in the Child Care Management Team and as a result a Council car comes with the role.) Janet has also had opportunities to act in the role of Children’s Services Manager.

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What have you enjoyed most about your career in child care, Janet?
It is interesting. You get to meet a diverse range of people from the people you work with to the people in the community. You also feel like you are making a difference in the everyday lives of families. In my job on the Mobile Playvan I was able to assist parents with raising their families and was able to help break down social isolation by bringing parents together. I enjoyed seeing how my service helped establish friendships throughout the community making lives better. I also feel strongly about the needs of people with disabilities and their families to be able to access services in the community in the same way that non-disabled children do. I hope in some small way I was able to help them and support them. I was able to go home each day and think I made a difference today!

Tell me about your decision to continue on with your studies?
The more I worked the more I realised what I didn’t know and the more I wanted to learn. I have learnt some really interesting things over the years (e.g. Autism). Council has even sent me to an interstate conference (QLD) to support my learning. I could also see that I was able to apply what I had learnt on the job to my studies. My family were very supportive and being one of 13 children myself I liked the type of work. It seemed a good fit for me.

What words of advice would you give to others?
Have dreams and live them. You will get there if you persevere and stay focused. The field of Child Care provides many things. Firstly, it provides a career path – you can start at the bottom and work your way up the ladder at your own pace. There are many jobs in the community where your skills and knowledge can be put to good use. Secondly, Child Care provides a team environment where you can enjoy the company of your work colleagues. The work also provides a mental as well as a physical challenge. I liked that.

Did you plan to get a senior role when you started out in Child Care?
I always believed in myself and my ability I just needed to work out where I was going to apply myself. I had had an interesting administrative career before I entered the field of Child Care. Child Care just grabbed my interest and my career grew steadily from a casual stint as a Playvan Assistant. No-one starts at the top, everyone has to start somewhere! And there are lots of openings in the field of child care.

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