When Kavita Ogale left behind her former job to follow her dream of working with children, the rewards were surprisingly greater than she had ever imagined, and she says the infectious laughs and cuddles that greet her at work every day are the cherry on top.
Kavita moved to Canberra from India after 12 years of working as a media professional. She was looking for a profession with long-term security that would help her connect with her new community and support her with the challenges of living in a new country.
Kavita is now an educator with the Communities@Work Abacus Child Care and Education Centre, located in Parkes, and she says it’s a job that’s gone beyond her expectations.
“Every day is different,” she says. “Sometimes it’s challenging, but it’s always fun and rewarding. I love how children challenge you to look at the world through their eyes. Their questions really open your mind as an adult, as an educator and as a person. They also improve your self-respect as an individual because, as the adult in the room, you need to be a role model.”
Kavita says it is extremely motivating to come to work every day and engage with the children.
“To know I’m making a positive impact on a child’s life and teaching them essential foundation skills that will help them succeed in the future gives me a real sense of purpose,” she says.
“I also love building special relationships with the children, their families and my wonderfully supportive fellow educators. Every day you are forming connections with people from all nationalities and walks of life. It’s made me realise that while I certainly enjoy engaging with the children, there’s so much more to this role, and that’s what makes it rewarding.”
Communities@Work director of children’s services Kellie Stewart says she is fighting hard to change misconceptions about the role and value of early childhood educators.
“Some people still see educators as babysitters,” she says. “But in fact supporting and guiding young children is highly skilled work.
“Educators put a lot of thought into carefully developing programs tailored to each child’s emotional, social and developmental needs, and they also put a lot of effort into documenting the learning journeys and making sure our centres meet the highest quality standards, particularly for health and safety.
“We don’t just put out a range of toys to keep children occupied.”
To ensure its educators are highly skilled and have the qualifications, confidence and knowledge to succeed, Communities@Work provides ongoing opportunities in professional development, mentoring and career progression.
The organisation has its own award-winning registered training program that offers nationally recognised Certificate III and Diploma qualifications in early childhood education. Additionally, it provides a range of workshops throughout the year, as well as offering subsidised study and ‘earn while you learn’ Ascend Program traineeships.
To support formal training, Communities@Work actively encourages its educators to share their knowledge and experiences with their peers. With almost 600 educators spread across its broad network of early education and care, out-of-school-hours care, and family day care services, there’s a wealth of collective knowledge to share.
“Our professional development and training program is backed by a strong cultural mentoring network where our educators can learn from each other, both formally and informally, in a mentoring and coaching space,” says Kellie. “It’s something we all highly value.”
To complement its commitment to ongoing training and professional development, Communities@Work offers a positive workplace culture, with meaningful and appealing employee benefits such as generous salary packaging, free vaccinations, healthy activity reimbursements, discounted child care and employee assistance.
With the sector crying out for more qualified educators and displaced workers looking for renewed job security, now may be the perfect time to consider a new career in early childhood.
For more information, visit Communities@Work.
Communities@Work is participating in the #bigrolesinlittlelives campaign with the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA). For more information on this campaign, visit Big Roles in Little Lives.