Kaylene's Family Day Care celebrated Early Learning Matters Week in style with a special visit from the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Ms Jodie Harrison.
The owner and namesake of the family daycare, Kaylene Milligan, was thrilled to welcome the special guest. While she had written to several politicians asking them to visit Kempsey, the Macleay local concedes she never expected any of them to show up.
"I wrote to several politicians inviting them to come by and see a family daycare in person, and show them how important they are to children's early development," she said.
"Ms Jodie Harrison was kind enough to accept the invitation; it was a nice surprise."
Joining Kaylene in welcoming the minister were parents and her current and past flock of children. They gave Ms Harrison a walking tour, a showcase of various photo albums and other works done by the children. The visit ended with some wise words from Kerri Griffin, a support coordinator from Mid-coast Family Day Care.
"The public and professional perception is that we are babysitters, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Family daycares like Kaylene's all have fully qualified educators and are subject to all the same rules, regulations and oversights as the big centres," she said.
"From visits like this, we are hoping to get a promise of long term funding from the government."
The evidence is there if you look at countries overseas who value early childhood learning; their literacy and schooling scores are far ahead of our own.Kerri Griffin
Family daycare is often overlooked when it comes to funding, and when parents are looking for a place to send their young children, Kerri believes this is a mistake.
"The key difference between a family daycare and a centre is a child might interact with 2 to 4 educators at a centre; they don't build up the rapport present in a family daycare," Ms Griffin said.
"Many of Kaylene's children are reluctant to leave, quite a few of her kids come back to visit even after they've moved on to school.
"The evidence is there if you look at countries overseas who value early childhood learning; their literacy and schooling scores are far ahead of our own."
Since taking over the job of Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Ms Harrison has been visiting several different child care facilities and schools to get a better understanding of her new role.
"There is so much wonderful stuff happening in early childhood learning," she said.
"Through visits like this, I hope to get a better understanding of what's happening on the ground, and get a feel for what's happening in the industry."
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