While essential for the smooth operation of child care and early learning services, unfortunately, these responsibilities often leave less time for educators to immerse themselves in teaching and caring for children.
And it’s coming at a significant cost to child care services and the industry as a whole, with teachers leaving childcare in record numbers
A 2016 survey revealed as many as one in five child care educators plan to leave the profession within the next 12 months.
According to Australian Government research 20 per cent of education graduates never register as teachers and almost half of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years.
With student numbers predicted to rise 26 per cent by 2022, experts fear Australia could be left with a shortage of teachers.
And the most common reasons for leaving?
Low pay, feeling undervalued, and too much paperwork.
Managing and working in a child care centre requires not only the planning, scheduling and delivery of learning programs and activities for children, but also cleaning duties, rostering and staffing matters, legislative requirements, administrative and accounting tasks, meetings and training.
Educators and child care staff are also heavily involved in the individual care and development of each child, as well as supporting and communicating with their families. This high level of care demands a large portion of time, making it increasingly difficult to balance the administrative tasks and paperwork that is also required.
The introduction of the new Child Care Package including the Child CareSubsidy Software and Child Care Subsidy will bring about new processes and procedures for child care staff to learn and implement.
But the new systems are intended to streamline and simplify some of the administrative tasks for child care providers in the longer term.
The real cost to child care
Child care providers are often completing paperwork during unpaid overtime, just out of necessity to get the job done.
The demand has escalated as far as child care providers blaming paperwork and red tape for distracting staff from their primary roles of educating and caring for children, leading to injuries and incidents in child care centres.
Following an incident in a South Australian child care centre in 2013, Australian Childcare Alliance acting president Judith Atkinson told The Advertiser that resources were being directed away from the engagement of children due to an ‘extraordinary amount of paperwork’.
Child Care South Australia’s Kerry Mahony supported her sentiment, saying paperwork had ‘increased dramatically’ following the introduction of the National Quality Framework.
These demands are just some of the reasons child care professionals demand and deserve recognition that early learning is not babysitting.
Yet in 2017, Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm infamously denigrated child care to ‘wiping noses and stopping the kids from killing each other’.
His comments prompted an impassioned response from Sydney child care worker Chloe Chant in this open letter to David Leyonhjelm, detailing the many complexities and demands in just a few days in her job.
The tasks included everything from working in her own time to create documents for a child custody hearing, identifying and reporting possible child sexual abuse, providing first aid to a baby experiencing febrile convulsions and developing individual support programs for a child with learning delays, to hours upon hours of paperwork, raking the garden, changing nappies and yes – wiping noses.
All for little over $20 an hour.
Child care and early childhood education is, and should always be, about improving and maintaining the development, health and wellbeing of every child that enters the building each day.
Facing the daunting tasks of excessive administrative work often means child care professionals are compromising their own time, health and wellbeing, which is an undesirable outcome for everyone involved.
Why embracing technology can mean more time teaching
In this modern age of digital technology, cloud-based software, and apps, it’s surprising how much administration is still performed through physical printouts and handwritten notes.