The results are in for Family Day Care Australia’s Regional Educator Awards, with Warnervale’s Rizalyn Wilbow the Central Coast’s 2020 Educator of the Year.
Wilbow runs her home day care business, Riza’s Pambata Family Day Care, under the banner of Coastwide Child and Family Services, and has worked in the early childhood industry for the past 23 years.
She was nominated for this year’s award by one of her client families and was chosen by Family Day Care Australia as the Coast’s top educator for her seamless handling of the pandemic and above and beyond approach to childcare.
With the sector one of the most heavily impacted by COVID-19, Wilbow said the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns left educators in shock, and believes that it was the government’s decision to offer free childcare that really sent the childcare industry spiralling.
“While the offer was great for families it wasn’t fully funded, and as a result, many educators had to carry the financial responsibility to deliver that free childcare,” Wilbow said.
Wilbow said that her business fell somewhere in the middle in terms of financial impact, and while she was able to adapt, she feels for those educators who had to close their businesses.
But for educators with similar setups to hers, Wilbow believes there is new hope.
“One positive that has come out of the pandemic is that family day care has become more recognised within the industry.
“Parents quickly realised that with smaller groups illness is easier to avoid, and when it does occur, it’s easier to trace, so there’s a lot more appreciation and interest for home day care now, which is a big benefit for sole traders like me,” Wilbow said.
Wilbow said smaller operations also had the added benefit of having an easier time incorporating more stringent hygiene practices and other pandemic mandates than larger day care centres.
“I can only have a maximum of seven children a day, and prior to the pandemic, my kids were already aware of the importance of personal hygiene, so for us, it was really just about being more diligent with our handwashing before meals and after outside play.”
Another positive for the industry this year has been a noticeable decline in common ailments amongst children, something Wilbow attributes to the increased focus on personal hygiene and general health across the board.
With 2020 also the 10 year anniversary of her business, the year will be one to remember for Wilbow, especially if she progresses to national finalist at the next leg of the awards.
“This has been such a strange year, so I definitely wasn’t expecting to be the winner for the Central Coast.
“It kind of feels like everything’s come together for me and I am so grateful to my families for believing in me and for this recognition.”
National finalists will be announced in December, with national awards to be held in February 2021.