6 Skills and Qualities Child Care Workers Need to Have
The profession of child care in Australia has truly flourished in recent decades. As per business research firm IBISWorld’s 2018 statistics, the industry has brought in $13 billion in revenues, employs more than 150,000 child care professionals, and foresees an annual growth rate of 6.5%. Historically, the growth of the child care industry can be tied to the labour force participation of the “baby boomers,” or Australians who were born between 1946 and 1965. This demographic saw the rise of Australian women returning to employment after giving birth, and as a consequence, child care support was bolstered by the Australian federal government.
The Australian child care industry has also benefited from a surge in professionals who are quite serious in their vocation. There’s no lack of skilled labourers pooling their talents toward the educational, social, and health-related development of young children. But a question worth asking on behalf of parents—as well as would-be child care workers themselves—is: what kind of training and formation should a child care worker have in the interest of doing well in their job?
Here’s a list of skills and qualities that child care workers absolutely need to have.
- Child care workers must follow Australia’s professional standards for the industry. Australia is known to uphold strict standards for practising in the field of child care. Agencies such as the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) are tasked with upholding the Education and Care Services National Law, as well as implementing Australia’s National Quality Framework. In addition, organisations such as Early Childhood Australia (ECA) do the valuable work of advocating a Code of Ethics for early childhood professionals. Child care workers, whether based in a centre or doing their work through an agency, must be aware of—and above all, compliant to—the standards that govern this field.
- Child care workers must have the right credentials for the type of care they offer. Child care in Australia constitutes several opportunities for specialised work. Some specialised roles that child care workers occupy are: early childhood teacher, family day care worker, out-of-school-hours volunteer, or nanny. Whatever the case may be, the child care worker in question must have the official credentials to testify to their skills, such as a Certificate III in Early Childhood and Care and/or Children’s Services for centre-based workers, or a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care for those who occupy managerial positions.
- Child care workers must have first aid qualifications. Another requirement child care workers must fulfil is advanced first aid knowledge, which can be attained through accredited first aid training in Sunshine or in their respective localities. The mandate of Division 6, Regulation 136 of the National Regulations for Education and Care Services calls for at least one staff member in a child care facility to have undergone anaphylaxis management training and emergency asthma training. Even outside of a centre, it is good for anyone taking care of children to possess advanced knowledge of first aid. Children have a much more delicate physical constitution than adults, and some may be in need of extra care for outstanding medical conditions—and thus, parents will want their children to be safe and in close range of someone who can help them.
- Child care workers must be working in a suitable environment. Parents should also be able to assess the environment that a child care worker practices in, such as in a preschool or daycare centre. They will be able to judge the quality of care their children receive by how the child care workers foster an inviting environment. The ideal is for a centre to be clean, neat, open and spacious, equipped with facilities like lockers and cots, and to have enough material (such as toys and books) to help children learn and be entertained. Family care workers and nannies who are based in parents’ home should also be in charge of maintaining a safe, immaculate environment.
- Child care workers must be good communicators to parents. Children are a thing of exception to be entrusted to other adults. Of course, parents should depend on their child care providers to be trustworthy, helpful, and transparent about any arising problems. Emphasis on communication skills is a key foundation of the relationship child care workers share with parents and their wards. The commitment to good communication must go both ways, however, and parents should not be afraid to share their concerns and points of improvement with their partner child care worker.
- Child care workers must have the right values to be working with children. Some personal qualities that are considered natural to child care workers are: compassion, orderliness, playfulness, creativity, and warmth. It is a very good sign for both parents and young children if all of these values can be seen outright. Children learn by imitation, and values such as these can be easily picked up from the child care workers they interact with.
Child care is an immensely rewarding professional field, and a strong child care industry serves the needs of the entire community. As such, due respect must be afforded to child care workers and the heroism they espouse every day in their vocation.