Is the childcare workforce undervalued?

17th April 2018

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By Hayley Smith

So the saying goes that ‘it takes a big heart to shape little minds’. This is true, it takes a special kind of person to work well in childcare as it is both a physically and emotionally demanding job which carries a large amount of responsibility. Some individuals who do not work in childcare (and probably wouldn’t last a day doing the job) can sometimes refer to it as ‘just playing with children’, but those of us in the field know that this is just a very small part of what we do on a daily basis!

Amongst many other things, individuals working in childcare are required to be;

  • A stand-in for a parent as the primary care giver at that time, who provides a nurturing bond and emotional support for the children.
  • A cleaner who ensures a constantly clean and safe environment for the children at all times throughout each day (regardless of how messy activities may have been).
  • A nurse who cares for unwell children by administering medication, or first aid, if necessary and provides additional one-to-one care for that child until their parents arrive to collect them.
  • A teacher who educates the children, teaching vital skills which will underpin future learning in school and beyond.

There is a push for the childcare workforce to be more highly qualified in order to carry out the above tasks, particularly the teaching, with a view that it might help to increase the level of recognition. It is undoubtable that the individuals working in the childcare workforce do not receive the level of recognition and appreciation for the vital work which they are doing. People who are caring for young children at a stage in their lives which is most important for developing secure emotional attachments and brain development are paid a low wage on average which does not reflect the importance of the work which they are carrying out.

It is highly likely that most of the childcare workforce have entered into that field of work as a vocation because they want to make a difference and they enjoy the work which they do. It is fortunate that, because of this, the area of childcare has attracted some highly devoted individuals who are fantastic at their roles. I am sure that those individuals who go the extra mile to support the children which whom they are working, and their families, are very much appreciated by the people who they work with. During my time working in early years childcare I have witnessed many kind gestures from families towards particular members of staff; the giving of generous gifts and such thoughtful words written in cards that they bring a tear to your eye.

We may not get the biggest pay packet at the end of the month but we have made a difference; every month, every week, every day – we are making a difference. Next time you see a child achieve a goal or simply smile at you, remember that you were part of that and how many people can say that about their job?

So here’s a message to everyone who works in a job caring for children –

Thank you for everything you do, you’re all truly amazing!

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