In home care reimagined

Published on Tuesday, 30 April 2019
Last updated on Thursday, 01 October 2020

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This week meet Andrea Christie-David, the Managing Director and Founder of innovative early childhood service, Leor In Home Early Learning, which offers families the opportunity to engage an early childhood educator to deliver curriculum based education and care to children aged between six weeks and 6 years within the family home.

What compelled you to launch Leor?

I was prompted by my own experiences looking for child care for my own three children. I had used long day care, family day care, preschool, nannies and grandparents, and I wanted to bring the best aspects of all those care arrangements into the home environment.

How long has Leor been in operation?

I left my role as a human rights lawyer in June last year and launched Leor officially in July, 2018.

What areas of Australia does Leor service currently? Are there any plans for expansion?
We currently have educators in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as regional NSW, although Sydney is our largest operation. We plan to expand to other capital cities in Australia within the next 18 months.

What does your role in the company involve?

Well, when you're in the exciting early stage of a business you pretty much do everything, so it's easier to say what I don't do. I don't deliver the education and care, I leave that to the expertise of our early childhood educators, who are supervised by our Lead Educators, who monitor their learning programs and reporting. We also have an HR Administrator as part of our team.

How does Leor differ from other forms of early childhood education and care?

The main difference is that we focus on each child's individual needs within the home environment. Our educators build learning programs according to each child's needs and we report back to parents on a quarterly basis about their child's progress and any contributions they can make to their child's learning and development.

What are the benefits to children educated under this model?

We find when children's needs are met more promptly than they can be in a large day care environment. Our families also have the benefit of the advice and support of our educators, who really get to know their family and can provide counsel and guidance to support their parenting.

What about the parents – what are the benefits for them?

Our parents love the convenience, and they also love the fact that they have someone in their home that they can trust, because all our educators go through a strict onboarding process, including various checks and training procedures.

Any advantages/benefits to educators working with Leor?

Our educators receive ongoing supervision, mentoring and professional development. We are also able to offer flexible working arrangements around our educators' own care obligations, which is a hard thing to find.

What do you feel are the challenges currently faced by the early childhood sector in Australia?

There are many, such as high administrative burdens, high staff turnover, and profit over learning outcomes. That's why I wanted to flip these trends and remove the administrative burden from educators, place children's needs as a priority over profit, and provide educators with flexible working arrangements.

What are your primary goals for Leor?

My only goal is to make a positive difference to the lives of children and their families, including the children of our educators.

Does having a child's family members present, such as a parent, during the education impact on the service Leor provides?

Many of our parents or grandparents hang around while our sessions are conducted. It doesn't make much of a difference to how we work, as our educators have very little trouble keeping children engaged in activities.

How does the cost compare to other early childhood services?

We recognise that our fees are higher than engaging a nanny, however if you have three children in our care then the per child rate is cheaper than some child care centres in Sydney and Melbourne, and the hourly rate comes down to as little as $14 per hour per child. Our educators also bring toys and equipment, they pre-plan activities before they come to a family's home, and they have often discussed a child's progress with their lead educator, so there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. We also pay above award as we believe that educators deserve to be treated with respect and paid fairly.

Can you join up with other families to ensure more social interaction for the children (other than siblings)?

Yes, we offer Family Co-ops to allow up to three children from two families to join together and share care in one family's home. However, this is not available to families accessing the Child Care Subsidy for In Home Care.

How do you select your staff members? Are they all professionally trained and educated?

All our educators must have experience caring for children, whether that's in a child care centre, a primary school, in a medical or social work profession or as a professional nanny.

We also require our educators to prepare learning programs and identify children's learning and development needs, so the majority of our educators are also qualified, whilst the rest are actively working towards an early childhood qualification.

What's the feedback like from parents with children in your care?

Our parents don't want to let our educators go. They become an integral part of their lives and their child's learning regime. Parents often pin down our educators at the end of a session and pick their brains for ideas about learning activities, challenging behaviours, or just general support in those challenging early years of parenting. One parent commented to one of our educators recently 'you are making such a positive difference to our lives', which is exactly what I set out to do when I set up the model, so it makes me feel truly happy that the model is working.

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