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LECTURER: Melissa Smith

EPT308 Windows to the Community

Batchelor of Teaching (Birth to Five


Assignment 1
Due: 22 September 2008

Word Count: 2600

Pages: 22 including Appendices

At present I work at North Kiama OOSH 20 hours per week every afternoon from
2pm to 6pm, where I enjoy working with the children. During 2006 I completed the
Diploma of Children’s studies at Bedford College in Sydney. I enjoyed participating
in practical experience every Friday at Kiama Downs Children’s Centre, which also
included two two-week blocks, this gave me the insight to study early childhood in
greater detail.
I have designed a project that incorporates Brofenbrenner’s ecological system theory
(appendix four); which represents the relationship between the child and the setting,
including the community. It is about analysing the recognition of how children
develop, studying the ways in which children, communities and families are all
interconnected (Bowes, 2004). Through this project I will connect the early
children’s centre’s involvement in it’s local community, I will also be researching
aspects of the community that impact the families and children living there. The
project will also include discussion into how the centre responds to family needs, the
children’s needs and also community needs.

The early childhood service:

Kiama Downs Children’s Centre is managed by an organisation called Illawarra
Children’s Services (ICS), they are led by a central management team based in
Corrimal, they have been supporting children and families in our local region since
1981. Illawarra Children’s Services are a non for profit organization that believes in
helping all children reach their full potential, they provide services that include
preschools and long day care centres, outside school hours care, vacation care and
have a range of support programs (Organisation chart Appendix four).
Illawarra Children’s Services beliefs:
 Philosophy: “All children should have access to high quality care
and education that supports lifelong learning”
 Vision: “To be the leading provider of high quality services that
support children and families in regional and rural communities”.
 Mission: “to resource, deliver and manage innovative programs that
support children and families in the community” (Illawarra
Children’s Services).

ICS have a number of services in the Wollongong (wider community) and has one
service in our local area see (appendix two). They provide inclusion support for their
services; which include programs and projects that support children’s services staff in
helping to provide inclusive environments and programs for all children including
special needs children. Professional development is also offered to all of their staff
which include; conferences, parent information sessions, mentoring initiatives,
seminars, and workshops. ICS have a resource library, which provides a wide range
of children’s, play equipment, journals, books, videos and training kits; they also
provide publications that support their services.

Kiama Downs Children’s Service

Address: Hughes Crescent Kiama Downs
Phone: 02 42 37 8633
Fax: 02 42 37 5484

Cost: $59.75 per day Childcare Benefit Available

Utilisation: 43 children Quality Assurance: High Quality Rating.

Kiama Downs Children’s Service is a long day care centre which cater for children
aged between 6 weeks to 5 years. They operate between the hours of 7am and 6pm
and operate for 50 weeks of the year. The centre staff come from diverse family
backgrounds offering a variety of skills, backgrounds and knowledge.

The centre consists of a team of dedicated staff: two university trained Early
Childhood Teachers, four Associate Diploma/Diploma of Children’s Services, two
certificate III in Children’s Services, one Childcare Worker, one trainee, a Cook, an
Administrative Officer and a Cleaner (Family Handbook, 2008). All staff have
mandatory working with children checks before commencing employment with the

The local community:
Kiama Downs Children’s Centre is located in Kiama Downs, part of the Illawarra of
New South Wales. Kiama Downs Children’s Centre caters for the needs of families
that live in the local area.
Kiama Downs is a coastal locality situated on the Princes Highway in New South
Wales. Kiama Downs is situated about 90 km southwest of Sydney. It has an altitude
of about 32m above sea level. Kiama Downs is 2.8km away from Kiama it’s nearest
more populous place; which has a population of approximately 12,000. Kiama is
famous for its spectacular coastline and rural scenery, it has also a rich heritage based
on dairy farming and quarrying.
Kiama Downs – Minnamurra – Bombo

Land Area: 754 hectares Density: 7.47 people per hectare (2006)
The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006 has provided information on the local
community makeup surrounding the Children’s Centre and of the Kiama Area. The
main town of Kiama is five minutes away (Appendix 1).

Estimated population
Kiama 18, 984
Wollongong (wider community) 257,477

The families in the local community consist of a variety of religions Anglican being
the most popular then Catholic. There is a percentage of 12.6% of people that were
born overseas, the most coming from the North West Europe area with 8%. 3.1% of
Australians living in the Kiama area speak a language other than English at home.
There is an estimated 17.9% of people living in the wider community the Wollongong
region that also speak another language other than English at home. Statistics show
that the main languages other that English is Greek, Macedonian and Italian. The
same statistics show that there are 1.2% of residents in Kiama are Indigenous
compared to 2.2% in the wider region Wollongong.

All these statistics assist the Children’s Centre in catering for their community to
assist in positive programming for the children’s and family needs.

As stated in statistics there are 1140 persons under the age of four years old living in
the Kiama area. I have listed the local and wider community preschools that cater for
the Kiama area (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). A large number of these
centres have large waiting lists and it is not uncommon for families to book there
children in when falling pregnant because of this large waiting list, they hope that by
the time there unborn child needs childcare there place may be available.
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006)

Kiama Local Area Childcare Facilities

 Collins Street Kindy
 Kiama Downs Children’s Centre
 Kiama Kids Pre-School and Childcare Centre
 Shoalhaven Street Kindy
 CFK Kiama
 North Kiama Out Of School Hours Care

Childcare Facilities in Wider Community (within 15 min drive)
 Gerringong Community Services Association
 Gerringong Preschool Education Centre
 Little Cherubs Children’s Centre
 Wilbur Dolphin Childcare Centre
 Gerringong After School Care
 Chillawong Childcare Centre
 ABC Shell Cove
 Blue Cove Preschool
 Shell Cove Preschool
 Jellybeans Family Daycare
 Olitots Preschool and Long Day Care Centre
 Stepping stones Childcare Centre
 Flinders Preschool Education Centre
 Junior Einstein Nurturing Centre
 Wilbur Bear Childcare Centre
 CFK Childcare Centre Blackbutt
 Pelican Preschool and Long Day Care Centre
 Shellharbour City Childcare Centre
 Wilbur Whale Child Care Centre
 Shellharbour OHSC and Vacation Care
Albion Park
 Albion Park Children’s Centre
 Bedrock Kids
 Centenary Hill Preschool
 Daintree Drive Preschool
 Hillside Drive Preschool
 Lavender Land preschool

 Mount Terry Preschool
 Maintain View Early Childhood Centre
 Terry Street Kids Childcare Centre
 Alunga Child Care Centre
 Albion Park OHSC and Vacation Care
 Illawarra Family Daycare
 Shellharabour/Kiama Family Day-care

Socio-Economic Status
In relation to the Exosystem (Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System, appendix three)
this area outlines employment, occupations and housing types within the Kiama and
Wollongong area. This information points out the needs of families and children in
the local area and assists the Children’s Centre in catering for the needs of families
and children.

Occupation – Top 5
 Professionals 10% 6%
 Sales/Clerical 6% 6%

 Tradespersons 6% 6%
5% 4%
 Professionals
4% 2%
 Managers/Administrators

Education – Top 5
 Not attending/working 72% 72%
 Infants/primary/preschool 11% 10%

 Secondary Education 9% 7%
3% 3%
 Technical or Further Ed
3% 4%
 University

Type of Dwelling
 Separate house 85% 79%
 Flat 7% 11%

 Semi/Terrace 5% 6%
(Kiama City Council, 2007)

New South Wales State and Country Statistics.

Person NSW % of total Australia % of total

Characteristics persons in persons in
Region Australia
Total Persons 6,549,177 19,855,288
Males 3,228,451 49.3% 9,799,252 49.4%
Females 3,320,726 50.7% 10,056,036 50.6%
Indigenous 138,506 2.1% 455,031 2.3%
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006)

Experiences of the children:

Kiama Downs Children’s Centre believes that children learn through exploration, play
and development, they follow the NSW Curriculum Framework. Staff plan and
implement developmentally appropriate experiences for the children that promote
learning and understanding, in response to children’s interests, needs and abilities. A
general day at the centre includes a balance of indoor, outdoor, active, quiet,
individual and group activities creating a natural rhythm to the day. The day may
include water, sand play, music and movement, art and craft, block construction,
science, language and dramatic play. The experiences are programmed to support
each child’s social, physical, intellectual, emotional and language development also in
response to the child’s interest and abilities.
The centre believes all children are active contributors to their play and learning, as
they are continually growing, staff acknowledging each child as being unique, and
provide the children with enriching experiences too assist them in developing
relationships and trying to make sense of their world (Bronfenbrenner’s Social
Ecology Model, appendix three).
Each child at the centre is assigned a primary staff member who develops an
individual program specific to the needs and abilities of the child. “Staff abide by
the ethical responsibilities outlined in the Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics
and pride themselves in being advocates for children and their families”.

Children are provided with a hot meal, with includes at least 50% of their daily-
recommended dietary intake of nutrients as set out in the dietary guidelines for
Australians. The service promotes healthy nutritious food and drink, including
culturally appropriate and promote healthy eating habits. The menu is displayed for
family members to view and input is encouraged (ICS Handbook). Each child is
given a personal individual folder that is given to the parents at the end of the year.
This folder contains bi-monthly learning stories, art works, and photographs, these
folders are available to parents to view throughout the year, parents are encouraged to
exchange information through their child’s portfolio and verbally on attendance.

Discussion on information gathered:

Kiama Downs Children’s Centre believe children can be effective members of their
community in saying this they provide the children with experiences that reflect
diversity, supporting individual values and attitudes. They are actively involved in
the transition to school program and promote relationships with nearby schools and
out of school hours care and professionals that can enrich the lives of the children
attending their service.
The centre staff promote open communication between parents and communicate
daily on the child’s daily experiences and development. They value the contributions
of families to their service, and respect how and when families choose to do so. Some
examples of how their families may contribute are:
• Sharing interests, experiences, skills like cooking, building, gardening, arts,
drama and musical
• They invite all family members to be apart of their parent and community
• Invite families to assist with excursions and service events
• Invite families to assist in fund raising opportunities
• Invite families to join the Illawarra Children’s Services Board to contribute to
policy development and governance.
Kiama Downs Children’s Centre is assisted by a voluntary committee consisting of
parents of the children who attend as well as interested members of the community.
They also have a P and C Participation Group where all parents and community
representatives are invited to attend. Parents are surveyed to establish the most

suitable time for the meetings. Meetings are held every six to eight weeks, the
director of the centre presents a report, and general business, community needs, and
concerns are addressed.
Included in Kiama Downs Children’s Centre Philosophy (Kiama Down’s Children’s
Centre Family Handbook) in relation to the community “We believe:
• in drawing on the resources of the community in order to increase awareness
of diversity within the community
• in promoting a positive image to the community and to work in partnership
with the community to ensure they are aware of our service and what we have
to offer.
The centre aims to provide care for children in the community with additional needs.
The staff work with Illawarra Children’s Services (ICS) Inclusion Support Unit. The
centre believes the inclusion of children with additional needs into mainstream Early
Childhood Education is beneficial to all children attending the service (Merryn
The centre asks for parent fees to paid one week in advance, and parents experiencing
difficulties are asked to discuss the matter with the centre director where all matters
are discussed in confidence and payment plans can be delivered (Parent Handbook).
Kiama Downs Children’s Centre provides information to parents in relation to Before
and After School Care Services for siblings during school holidays, and also has
information for these services in the transition to school pack given to parents where
children are starting school in the new year. In the foyer of the centre there is a parent
library, containing resources, video’s, DVDs and pamphlets parents are able to
borrow at any time.
As there are only two early childhood centres in Kiama Downs and three centres in
Kiama, and records show that there are 1140 infants living in the area 6% of Kiama’s
population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006), childhood places are in high
demand. There is a waiting list at all services and at Kiama Downs Children’s Centre
their list is divided into three sections, 0-2 years, 2-3 years and 3-5 years, priority of
access guidelines have been set by the Federal Government (Department of Human
Services and Health), for parents wanting to use Long Day Care Centres (Centre

As property in our local community is quite high the average family has both parents
working, which means the average child spends less time with parents and sometimes
equal time with educators and other community members, resulting in a partnership in
their child’s development (Bronfenbrenner’s Social Ecology Model, appendix three).
Kiama Downs Children’s Centre uses a variety of ways to identify children’s
individual, family needs, and to identify community needs, by using positive
communication and good relations with parents and families they are able to
positively be active members in their community. The centre opens early at 7am and
closes at 6pm to cater for the increasing working parents of the community.
On enrolment parents are asked to provide the centre with information such as culture,
medical history, languages spoken at home, all of this information is gathered and
discussed to ensure the centre is committed to the needs of their local community, and
all children will benefit from this large range of culture that can be programmed into
the service.
As Cultural statistics are low 3.1% in our community I believe that the centre is
catering for this by inviting special guests into their centre to educate their children on
diverse experiences, they also provide the children with numerous resources, and have
posters on their wall to show families of their inclusive diverse practices.

Kiama Downs Children’s Centre works with various resource agencies to help
provide a safety net for families and provide a solid resource for strengthening all
relationships within a child’s mesosystem (Neighborhood and community).
“Today educating a child takes cooperation and involvement from educators, parents,
families, and the community “It takes a village to raise a child” Research is showing
us that the more the family and community involvement in schools, the greater the
students achievement” (Neighbourhood and Community).
As Bronfenbrenner’s Social Ecology Model shows us the community has always been
an important influence in a child’s development, and with increased burdens such as
income, single parents, high housing, limited places for childcare, communities are
definitely becoming a definite impact on children in positive ways, and educators
today need to be aware of the needs of their communities.

As there are numerous influencing factors in a child’s life all of which are factors in
the ecological systems, community members including early childhood carers need to
provide a positive link between the ecological systems to help children build on
establishing stable and positive relationships. As part of the exosystem, society,
culture and the community provide support for positive relationships within the social
ecology model by providing values, material resources and context within which these
relationships operate (Lewis, R., & Morris, J., 1998).
Looking closely into Brenfenbrenner's Social Ecology Model I believe that Kiama
Downs Children’s Centre is positively offering a stable and positive link within their
individual children’s Microsystem and Mesosystems, the environments that
immediately impact the child’s life. They take into account the needs of the families,
which include family make up, socio economics, neighbourhoods, and work in
partnership with community members to support Bronfenbrenner's Social Ecology

Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2006b). Kiama Downs statistics. Retrieved Sunday
20th July, 2008, Kiama Municipal Council from

Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Regional Profile, 2000 to 2004, Kiama

Retrieved on Sunday 27th July 2008 from,

Bowes, J. (2004). Children, families and communities: Contents and consequence.

South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University.

Bronfenbrenner’s theory on ecological systems (image) (n.d). Retrieved on

Sunday July, 2008, from

Bronfenbrenner. U. (1979), the Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by

Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Retrieved

Bonzle, Map of Kiama Downs, Retrieved Sunday 20th July, 2008 from,

Dean, M. and Huitt, W. Neighbourhood and Community, Retrieved Sunday 20th July,
2008 from, file:///C//My%20Documents/My%20Webs/Bronfenbrenner

Domain, Kiama Downs suburb profile. Retrieved Sunday 20th July, 2008 from,

Illawarra Children’s Services, Kiama Downs Children’s Centre, Family Information
Booklet, 2008.

Illawarra Children’s Services, Parent handbook, 2008, Retrieved on Sunday 27th July
2008 from,

Illawarra Children’s Services, Early Childhood 0 – 5 years, Retrieved Monday 21st

July, 20087, from

Illawarra Child Care, Kindergartens, Early Learning Centres, Retrieved Monday 21st
July, 2008 from,

Kiama Municipal Council, Community Profile, Retrieved Monday 21st July, 2008

Lewis and Morris (1998), Retrieved Sunday 20th July, 2008 from, file:////C/My

MacNaughton, G., & Williams, G. (2004). Techniques for teaching young children;
Choices in Theory and Practice, South Melbourne: Longman.

Paquette Dede/John Ryan, Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, Retrieved

on Sunday 27th July 2008 from,

Wikipedia, Ecological Systems Theory, Retrieved on Sunday 27th July 2008 from,

Appendix One

Demographics Kiama Local Community:

Kiama Wollongong (wider

Population size 18,984 257477
 Males 49% 49.2%
 Females 51% 50.8%

 Indigenous 1.2% 2.2%

Country of Origin
 Australian Born 86% 73%
 Overseas Born 12.6%
Born Overseas – Top 5
 United Kingdom 7% 7%
 New Zealand 1% 1%

 Germany 0% 1%
0% 1%
 Netherlands
0% 2%
 Italy
Age Statistics
 40-59 28% 26%
 5-19 23% 22%

 60+ 21% 18%

21% 28%
 20-39
6% 7%
 0-4
Family Statistics
 Married 60% 53%
 Never married 24% 30%

 Widowed 7% 7%
6% 7%
 Divorced
2% 3%
 Separated
Religion – Top 5
 Anglican 34% 28%
 Catholic 29% 33%

 No Religion 14% 13%

8% 7%
 Uniting Church

 Presbyterian and Reformed 6% 4%
Occupation – Top 5
 Professionals 10% 6%
 Sales/Clerical 6% 6%

 Tradespersons 6% 6%
5% 4%
 Professionals
4% 2%
 Managers/Administrators
Education – Top 5
 Not attending/working 72% 72%
 Infants/primary/preschool 11% 10%

 Secondary Education 9% 7%
3% 3%
 Technical or Further Ed
3% 4%
 University
Transport to Work – Top 5
 Car (driver) 26% 23%
 Car (passenger) 3% 3%

 Work at home 2% 2%
1% 1%
 Walked
0% 1%
 Train only
Type of Dwelling
 Separate house 85% 79%
 Flat 7% 11%

 Semi/Terrace 5% 6%
Nature of Occupancy
 Fully Owned 51% 45%
 Purchasing 25% 22%

 Rented 18% 27%

Monthly Loan Repayment
 $600-$799 18% 18%
 $1000-$1,199 15% 15%
 $400-$599 15% 14%
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006)

Appendix Two
Illawarra Children’s Services Centres:
Preschools and Long Day Care:
 Barrack Heights Children’s Centre
 Bellambi Point Preschool
 Bulli Children’s Centre

 Cobbler’s Hill Children’s Centre
 Corrimal Children’s Centre
 Dapto Children’s Centre
 Helensburgh Community Preschool
 Kenny Street Children’s Centre
 Kiama Downs Children’s Centre
 Koonawarra Children’s Centre
 Narellan Early Learning Centre
 Port Kembla Preschool
 Stewart Street Children’s House
 Warrawong Children’s house
 Western Suburbs Child Care Centre
 Albion Park (Before and After School Care, School Holiday Program)
 Balarang OSHC (Before and After School Care, School Holiday Program)
 Fairy Meadow OSHC (Before and After School Care, School Holiday
 Northern Suburbs OSHC (After School Care, School Holiday Program)
 Shellharbour/Flinders OSHC (After School Care, School Holiday Program)
 Unanderra OSHC (After School Care, School Holiday Program)
 West Wollongong OSHC (After School Care)
 Wollongong East OSHC (After School Care, School Holiday Program)
 Corrimal Special Needs vacation Care
 Illawarra Special Needs Vacation Care\early_childhood/centres.html

Appendix Three
Bronfenbrenner’s social ecology model:


Ecological Systems Theory

This theory is also sometimes called the “Development in Context” or “Human

Ecology” theory. It consists of four types of interconnected environmental systems.
It contains four systems, each system containing roles, norms and rules that shape
development (Ecological Systems theory):
• Microsystem
The microsystem is the layer closest to the child it involves the direct contact a child
has. “The microsystem encompasses the relationship and interactions a child has with
her immediate surroundings (Berk, 2000)”.

• Mesosystem
The mesosystem is the layer, which includes the child’s involvement with parents,
teachers, religious groups/leaders and his surrounding neighbourhood (Berk, 2000).

These are the interrelationships, which the child actively participates in regularly
(Bowes, 2004).

• Exosystem
The exosystem is the layer which includes a larger social system in which the child
does not function directly for example parents workplace, siblings sporting events,
experiences that the child still feels positive or negative forces from that can affect
development (Berk, 2000).

• Macrosystem

The Macrosystem this is the most outermost layer of a child’s environment; they
include environmental changes, cultural views, customs and laws (Berk, 2000). This
system incorporates cultural values and beliefs, which are passed on by families,
religious groups and government institutions (Bowes, 2004).