Introduction: Although the family day care workforce has changed over the past decade in response to evolving childcare regulations and accreditation requirements, there is little research on family day care educators in Australia. The aim of this study was to describe characteristics of Australian family day care educators, including their qualifications, professional training, characteristics of the children they care for, and connections to their family day care scheme and community organisations. Methods: Secondary data analysis was conducted using cross-sectional data from Wave Two of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) Birth Cohort. Data from family day care (FDC) educators were extracted from the mail-out Home-Based Carer (HBC) survey completed by 207 FDC educators (56% response rate). Descriptive statistics were used to profile demographics and qualifications of FDC educators, their scheme and community connections, and the characteristics of children in their care. Results: More than half of the FDC educators did not have qualifications specific to early childhood; 28 per cent of educators were currently studying in the area; and a quarter were qualified. One-third of educators were caring for at least one child with a disability or developmental delay, 27 per cent were looking after children from non-English speaking backgrounds, and 16 per cent were looking after children from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. Most FDC educators reported a high level of connection with their coordinating scheme (89%) but that assistance from other organisations such as schools, preschools or childcare centres was rare. Discussion: The results from this study reflect the movement in FDC towards gaining formal qualifications. Given that many educators were caring for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and had special needs, tailored support is needed to build their knowledge, skills and confidence to ensure inclusive care provision. Isolation of FDC educators from the wider community and other childcentred organisations highlights potential to develop connections outside of FDC to facilitate professional development and support.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Australian Journal of Early Childhood|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2011|