Some people have the mistaken idea that child care is an easy job and anyone can watch children. This is not true.
Years ago watching a child in ones’ home was usually a way for someone to make a living; now days it is so much more.
I am a director at a DCF licensed child care center and when people call and ask if we are hiring, my first question is usually “have you worked in child care before?” Many times the response is, “No, but I have watched my nieces and nephews a few times.”
Child care is so much more than many people imagine. To work at a DCF licensed center or family child care home the first thing that needs to be done is the person wanting the job should actually go to the center or home, dressed appropriately, and ask to speak to the director or person in charge to hiring or call and set up an appointment to go in and talk with the person in charge. Most places have employment applications to be filled out and then references to be checked. If a person is eligible for hiring they then have to have a background screening done; complete with fingerprints submitted to county, state and FBI agencies to be screened for any criminal activities that will make them ineligible for hire.
Upon being hired it is the responsibility of the employee to start a 45 hour course and a five hour literacy course within the first 90 days and complete them within a year of being hired. These are available on the DCF website at www.myflorida.com/childcare. Upon completing the course the employee must then schedule a time at one of the community colleges to take the exams that are related to completing the courses. Most centers or homes also require all of their employees to take and keep current on CPR and first aid, and everyone is required to do a minimum of 10 hours of in-service (continuing education) per year.
These are just the beginning of your job in child care. Here is a list of some of the things you might be doing during your day in childcare. Depending on the age of the child in your care you might be teaching a child their ABCs, learning the colors, shapes, numbers, reading to them, arts and crafts, toilet training, washing hands and faces, changing clothes, diapers too and let’s not forget the social skills. It can be very hard for a child to understand they have to share and take turns.
The most important part of this job is to protect the children entrusted to your care. As a child care worker you become a mandated 24 hour a day reporter of child neglect/abuse; even when you are not working.
This is not a high paying career; most places start out a minimum wage and have to work up to a higher wage as their education and experience grows and improve. Some places offer insurance packages, paid holidays, and paid days off – but not many. If you decide to continue your education there are many courses in early childhood education at the college level to pursue, many with scholarships available to obtain the next levels of education.
This is an extremely rewarding career; where else can you go to work and get hugs and high fives just for walking in the room?
If this is a career you might be considering my advice to you would be find a center that would allow you to volunteer several different times and days.