Frontline heroes series: Childcare champions

Frontline heroes series: Childcare champions

Childcare has been a crucial service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, remaining open to ensure children are cared for while their parents continue essential work.

Educators, chefs, cleaners and administrators at services including Sesame Lane Care and Kindergarten have been on the frontline for the past two years.

Meet three of the hundreds of childcare champions working tirelessly across the Moreton Bay Region…

Childcare service manager - Candice Lines

Sesame Lane Redcliffe service manager Candice Lines says having available childcare options for families has been vital during the pandemic.

“We create a space of routine and normality for families and for their little ones - we support working families and those studying as well,” Candice says.

“We provide a safe environment for children to continue their learning through play and we keep our educators actively involved in a workplace and space of employment that also supports their own families.

“We are across the road from Redcliffe Hospital, so keeping our doors open to care for the children of frontline healthcare workers has been an essential part of our service. We provide casual and flexible care solutions for essential workers.”

For families, the team has been a source of connection during what has been an isolating time.

“I’m always ready to make time for a chat and a coffee with any family in need. A lot of parents have concerns or fears and I know by lending an ear I have greatly helped many parents get things off their chest,” Candice says.

“We provide a safe and caring space for children, giving them somewhere they belong and can be themselves. Another important part we play in supporting families is to help them in understanding the ongoing changes of covid restrictions.”

The uncertainty has also been challenging for the team, she says.

“Although we have experienced many moments of feeling overwhelmed with the unknown of this pandemic, it has also helped strengthen our relationships as a centre and organisation with children, families, and each other.

“These current times have allowed us to explore opportunities to find new ways of communication we can use with families and children of the centre; and highlights the benefits of using technology within the centre to keep connected with each other.”

Her message to families is simple: “We are here for you”.

“We will continue to find creative and fun ways for children to have the opportunity to delight in the world of learning through play,” Candice says.

Sesame Lane Care and Kindergarten Dakabin service manager Megan Le Brocq

Sesame Lane Dakabin service manager Megan Le Brocq says it’s been crucial for children and families to have a sense of normalcy in their lives.

“It is important that we provide the children with the same love and care that they are used to from us. It also gives parents the opportunity to continue working and try to relieve some pressure in their lives,” she says.

“I believe I have helped the families at my centre by being a familiar face and someone that they are comfortable speaking to.

“Being in a leadership position has been difficult at times, but I also find it rewarding. It’s my duty to keep staff morale high to ensure that the parents and children who attend our service are safe and happy.

“We don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next. I feel that’s the hardest for all of us going through this, especially those in leadership positions. We have to make the right decisions because a lot of little people are counting on us.”

Megan says the team make children feel safe, answer any questions they have and continue to run programs as they usually would.

“We are lucky to live and play in such a strong community who support each other. If anyone in our community needs anything we can help with, please give us a call.

“We run food drives, donation drives and fundraisers with the parents and children who attend our service on a regular basis, and we are here to support anyone in our community who needs it.”

Kerrie Ward - Sesame Lane Care and Kindergarten Narangba Service Manager

Sesame Lane Care and Kindergarten Narangba service manager Kerrie Ward has worked in the industry for 35 years and is proud her team has been able to keep the centre open to allow essential workers to continue their important work.

She says it’s more important than ever that children have an environment that’s happy and fun.

“Children see the pressure that Covid has brought to their parents - some working from home, some parents losing their jobs completely and the stress of supporting the family is felt in the home environment,” Kerrie says.

She says the support her team provides helps ease anxiety in children and their parents.

“Parents need us so they can work from home, as this is very difficult to do when you have a baby, toddler or three-year-old that seeks their attention throughout the day,” Kerrie says.

“So even if families are working from home, children can still attend our service so parents can continue to work without any distractions.

“We are here to support parents, not only those who attend our service but also any parents in our community who need advice or a helping hand.

“We are continually in touch with government departments to keep parents up to date with information as it comes to hand regrading COVID-19, our prevention plan, policy and procedures.

“Having the consistency of our educators caring for their child is a rock for families during uncertainty where you never know what’s coming next.”

Kerrie says the hardest thing for her team has been seeing some families stay at home due to fear of the unknown, especially those whose children had special needs.

“Now more than ever they need support and it’s hard to see people isolated,” she says.

“We are open, and we continue to stay open for our families, children, and educators. We would like to thank our community for your continual support and your trust in our service during these difficult times.

“Our parents have been absolutely wonderful. They are appreciative of all we do each day. The appreciation of our parents and the happy smiles on the faces of the children makes our job one of the most rewarding careers someone could choose. We are really making a difference in people’s lives.”

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