Care options for school age kids

Care options for school age kids

Based in Forster on the NSW mid-north coast, Out of School Hours (OOSH) & Vacation Care service manager Thomas De Courcy Dutton is passionate about providing quality child-care services. A former primary school teacher, Tom developed an interest in OOSH as a young education student and has built on that interest over many years.

From working as a part-time teacher and developing vacation care programs, Tom moved into full-time teaching where he met and established relationships with parents and other teachers. He also built a detailed knowledge on how to communicate best with schools, working with them to ensure the welfare of children, and helping families' access care outside school hours, to help maximise learning potential.

Tom is now the proud owner of three OSHC centres on the mid-north coast, which he says are thriving because the kids really want to go there.

Demand for places at all three centres has increased dramatically and he credits their success to the fantastic staff behind the service.

"All of our staff are totally child-centred. Most people on the team are either part-time teachers or uni students studying education, while some are ex-early childhood staff who are interested in continuing to work with older kids," he said.

Another important aspect of the success and expansion of the services has been the collaboration and partnerships with the school Principals.

A lot of planning goes on behind the scenes and the staff work constantly to coordinate and deliver engaging and fun programs.

"We collect data and work with kids and their families to select activities they really want to do," Tom said.

"We have incorporated extra curricular activities at the centre such as learn to swim lessons at the local aquatic centre, and we work hard on maintaining community and cultural links. These links help provide services to families that they cannot easily access in their day to day lives and help lay the  foundations for new skills," Tom said.

"Our service prides itself on ensuring that all stakeholders contribute to our programs. We set aside time each week to target feedback from children, families, teachers and local community members to help us continuously improve."

In developing his team, Tom said he makes sure they have a good induction and orientation before they start and pays his employees to take it all in before they begin teaching.

"Half of the kids attend because their parents are working, and the other half because they really want to be here. We love seeing them just having a good time and getting more out of life when they are not in school," he added.

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