Tiffany Currall - Tiff's House
Published on Tuesday, 03 September 2019
Last updated on Wednesday, 08 December 2021
This week meet Family Day Care Educator Tiffany Currall, who has been providing education and care to children for more than 23 years!
What is your name and which service do you work in?
My name is Tiffany Currall aka, Tiff, Tiffy, Ninnany, Tiff-John. My service is a Family Day Care named "Tiff's House". I don't have any staff, excepting a cleaner at end of week. I have four children per day, which is perfect.
When I was in Cottesloe, I had a very busy service with "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which was a before school service providing breakfast and a drop off to local schools.
Then between 9am-3pm I ran a pre-kindy program for five pre-schoolers (this was when the regulations allowed a fifth child of kindy age). Children would arrive at 9am and depart at 3pm.
Then 3pm-6pm I ran an after school service, which included picking children up from local schools, a substantial afternoon tea, play in backyard or local park to burn off some steam from the day behind a desk and help with homework before being collected by 6pm.
What is your professional background and career experience?
I have a background in nursing. I did lots of babysitting jobs while I was studying nursing, which gave me lots of hands on experience and of course nursing skills and knowledge were not only helpful but gave parents peace of mind.
I did the Certificate III and Diploma of Children's Services while running my business full time. How? I'm really not sure! I guess I had lots of energy as a younger woman! I was also on the committee of the Cottesloe Toy Library for 10 years and did a year as Treasurer for the Seaview Kindergarten for the year my son was at kindy?!?
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
A friend of mine was using a family day care for her child and I loved the concept. I said I'd also like to put my children in family day care. She said it would actually be the perfect career move for me, I looked into it and after several months of trying to get approval through Cottesloe Council, Child Care Board, Wanslea Family Services I finally got started! This was two years before I had my first and only child.
My son is now 21 years old. I love that he grew up in such a beautiful child focused environment, with lots of friends and he developed lots of sibling-like relationships.
He had a wonderful childhood and I am lucky to have been able to spend all of that time with him growing up.
What does a 'normal' day look like for you?
Settling children into care and chatting with parents can take an hour or so. During this time the children sit on my knee enjoying a cuddle or play with assorted toys on the mat or train table.
After drop offs, we tend to focus more on fine motor activities e.g. puzzles, blocks, playdough before morning tea. Outdoor play after morning tea, then a craft session before lunch. Stories before nap time.
Lots of cuddles and conversation after nap time, then an indoor play in the home corner with dolls, kitchen, shop, café (depends on what I have set up) before afternoon tea.
Pick-ups tend to start at this time, and we have another play outside with climb/slide, cars, trikes, rollercoaster, etc. In amongst all of the above is lots of nappy changes, wiping of noses (in winter) and lots of handwashing!!!
What makes your service unique?
My service is unique because it is the perfect marriage of structured play in a familiar home environment. The children have the advantage of socialising in a small familiar group, with one constant educator. This gives them confidence and helps them to develop secure relationships, which are an extremely important foundation for learning and developing.
What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?
I love children, so the biggest advantage for me is watching them grow and develop, gaining readiness for kindy and school. I have had the pleasure of watching the learning journey for so many children and I have also gained many friendships.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?
Government funding being withdrawn to Family Day Care Services has increased the cost of running my business, significantly. The changes to the Child Care Subsidy increased costs to parents, significantly last year. I was concerned about losing my business at one stage, but my reputation and the unique type of care I am able to provide has kept my business at capacity.
There has been a significant increase in three year old kindergartens, particularly in my local area and some colleges have opened Early Learning Centres. I did find the availability of Child Care Subsidy for 3 year old kindy affected my business as I previously had children aged 2-4 years. While some retained a couple of days with me, there was a definite shift. There is also so much more paperwork with individual learning programs, evaluations and compliance.
How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?
I just had to absorb the massive increase in fees (the govt funding they lost is now paid by all the educators as an educator levy) and effectively take a pay cut. The parents ended up accepting the lowered subsidy, albeit reluctantly.
Last year, I found for the first time, I had quite a few vacancies and so I accepted some babies into care. I have had to lower my entrance age to 18 months and depending upon the baby, I have started taking younger babies into care. This is a direct effect of parents choosing to send their children to three year kindy and receiving a subsidy from that makes it a cheaper option. Finally, I just have to make time to catch up on paperwork on the weekend!
How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
I believe there is going to be an overhaul of the subsidies next year, which will help across the sector. Child care centres and Family Day Cares will probably find the 0-3yrs is their new target age group.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
It isn't an easy job. You really need to be passionate about children to have any position in Early Childhood. However, it is very rewarding and mostly lots of fun.
I feel quite privileged to have been part of so many children's early years. I am lucky to have befriended many families and my closest friends are actually ex-clients. I have even travelled to the UK on a couple of occasions and stayed with two different families (one in Ireland, the other England) after initially meeting them in my Family Day Care.
With social media I am able to stay in contact with many of my families and some of my earliest clients are now professionals with a career. I love being in contact with them after so many years!
Advice? These early years really are so precious and important. What we do sets them up with skills for life. Sharing, kindness, taking turns, listening, manners, etc. are all skills we need to be better adults.
Educator in the Spotlight: Meet Carlene Cox-Newton, from Carlene's Cubbyhouse, a family day care service in Queensland.
Educator in the spotlight: Meet Family Day Care Educator Tiffany Currall, who has been providing education and care to children for more than 23 years!
Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) has released a study into the profile of the family day care workforce: Attracting the next generation of family day care educators.