In late February I sat at the dining table in our small weatherboard cottage, looking…
When Ayesha Durrani’s family day care children get dropped off for the day, they don’t feel like they’re going to day care but instead feel like they’re heading into their second home.
After working as an educator in traditional out of school hours care programs (before and after school care) for almost a decade, Ayesha chose to be her own boss and start her own thriving business running family day care.
Family day care is high-quality and flexible early education and care, run in an educator’s own home. The unique small group setting of family day care means educators can provide a play-based learning program tailored to each child’s development needs and interests.
“I run the day care from my sunroom, but the children are not restricted to one area. They are free to go anywhere in the house, so it feels like home,” says Ayesha.
“In a centre, children need to learn so many different faces, and they need to get used to so many different educators. With family day care, there’s only one educator they need to get used to, and there is no change.”
Since she launched her family day care business three years ago, Ayesha has been consistently booked out—a testament to the award-winning formula she’s developed.
“I think the parents feel comfortable sending their children to me,” she says modestly.
“I like to build relationships, and I like to keep them in the loop through the day—it’s just a part of me. If they’ve dropped off a child who’s had an unsettled night, I would send them a reassurance text within half an hour of settling the child in,” she said.
This passionate focus on relationships, personal touches, and diverse and innovative play-based learning programs is the reason why Ayesha was named the 2020 Regional Educator Award Winner for ACT in the Family Day Care Australia’s Excellence in Family Day Care Awards.
It’s a passion and dedication also seen in fellow family day care educator Skye Cabrera, who chose to start her own family day care business five years ago when she had her first child, after ten years working in early education and care centres.
Like Ayesha, Skye goes above and beyond to create tailored and engaging programs for the children in her care, always looking for new learning opportunities. As a result, she’s also consistently booked out, with many families staying with her since day one. She was recognised as a finalist in the 2020 Local Business Awards after being nominated by a number of those families.
“I found most of my families were first-time mums, and they were attracted to the more homely feel and smaller numbers of family day care,” she says.
Skye says she didn’t realise how many educators there were in family day care before she made the move herself, after working in long day care for ten years.
“There’s such a range of people, it’s so broad. I couldn’t pinpoint a typical family day care educator. We all look different, we’re all different ages, we’ve all got different family backgrounds. Some of the educators have even been in the service for 35 years. It means that families can find an educator that’s a perfect fit for them.”
As family day care educators, Ayesha and Skye both run their own businesses and credit part of their business success to the partnership with Communities@Work’s Family Day Coordination Unit team. This team supports almost 100 educators in the operations of their family day care business, in line with the National Quality Framework, across Canberra and the surrounding NSW region.
The organisation offers formal and informal mentoring and guidance to educators. It provides networking opportunities with other educators and educational leaders both in the educators’ own homes and in the community as well.
“Being with Communities@Work takes all the stress off you because they provide all the policies and procedures to make sure we’re complying with all the regulations. They offer a year-round calendar of training and upskilling opportunities. They set up a network of ongoing mentoring and are always available to give advice on dealing with challenging issues,” says Skye.
“This extra support is great because it means we can put all our efforts into the children and helping them flourish, and on forming those important relationships with them and their families.”