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Blog

12 Mehefin 2024

Susan James

Susan James sitting down a desk

Role

I am a Senior Childcare Development Officer within Family Information Service, Childcare and Play Team who support registered Childcare Providers across the Local Authority County. We provide regular business support, grant applications, Childcare Offer engagement with parents and providers and support new development to meet parental demand. We provide mandatory and best practice training opportunities to support childcare workforce development. We work in collaboration with internal teams supporting Education and ALN and regularly meet with stakeholders to support providers in expanding their services and sustaining a provision within their local community.

How I got where I am

Having spent my earlier career in finance, the role gave me the opportunity to learn about the importance of providing quality customer service and financial aspects of budgeting for both personal and businesses customers.

My focus changed to early years following the birth of my children, learning about the importance of a child’s development in the first 1000 days and the importance of providing a positive learning environment through play to encourage children’s early years learning experiences.

I volunteered as a parent in the local Cylch Ti a Fi and Cylch Meithrin, as well as becoming the treasurer for the Cylch’s committee. An opportunity to become the Cylch’s Leader enabled me to plan and prepare a varied learning curriculum in an environment that encouraged the children to participate and learn. Seeing a child progress brought great joy to us as a childcare team.

It was clear that parents needed daycare to support family’s financial security and as a parent of young children, felt that there was a gap in the market in the local area. The opportunity came to establish a Welsh medium day nursery, one which was quality assured and approved to deliver part time education. The nursery quickly established itself as a reputable quality childcare provision in a home from home environment where children were cared for by qualified and experienced staff. The opportunity for families to access Welsh medium provision was highly sought for by parents, where children were given every opportunity to develop their Welsh language communication skills. Parents would express their gratitude of seeing their child converse and sing confidently in Welsh prior to commencing school full time.

Having made the difficult decision to sell the nursery, for me there was no question but to continue my career within the Childcare sector. I was successful in becoming a Childcare Business Development Officer with the local authority. Even though I miss working directly with children in early years I do feel that my current role enables me to continue to support the sector as it evolves.

A typical day

For many my day will initially start in checking emails to ensure that provider queries can be addressed as quickly as possible, supporting sector needs. Working within a small team, my responsibilities can vary all of which are driven to ensure that the service we provide is responsible and effective in delivery.

My day would involve various team meetings with the childcare team, reviewing areas of work that need to be finalised. Communication that is effective and accurate is essential to ensure objectives can be me within set timescales.

There is also strategic work to be undertaken, meetings with stakeholders and Welsh Government teams. Quantitative and qualitative data is captured on a regular basis to ensure that we can regularly assess the supply and demand for childcare and the service type county parents are looking for.

Childcare setting visits are undertaken providing business support, a time to reflect and review their business needs and service delivery, workforce recruitment and development plan along with potential business growth.

Visiting new potential childcare settings and supporting individuals in their aspirations of becoming a childminder, a leader or a childcare practitioner running a holiday club is fulfilling when their aspirations have been achieved, making a difference to the children they care for and the families they support.

The issues affecting my work at the moment

Since the pandemic and the impact of increased living costs further financial resources is required to further support the childcare sector. As an organisation we will need to continue to find innovative solutions to support the sector as the sector further develops.

The moment I’ll always remember

For me the first day we opened the doors of the nursery and seeing the first families and their children arrive will always be ingrained in my memory. Those children are now young adults venturing into their own working careers and I would hope that those early childhood experiences they had would have made a positive difference to their outcomes in adult life.

What I love about what I do

Every day I am fortunate to work within a team that pulls together, that supports each other for the greater good, meeting people’s expectations with a smile. The sense of teamwork and commitment is unwavering, and I feel fortunate that I can say that I am part of such an ethical team. There is a real sense of satisfaction when you know that you have made a positive difference and knowing that during difficult times your colleagues are there for you.

One thing I wish I’d known when I started out

Everyone will have different expectations from you but if I continue to deliver a service in a professional work ethic manner and always give my best, I cannot do anymore.

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