ECEC Provider in Focus: The Infants’ Home Child and Family Services
The Infants’ Home Child and Family Services is an award winning provider of integrated early childhood education, care, intervention and allied health services located in New South Wales.
Over 120 family day care (FDC) services operate under The Infants’ Home, along with four long day care services. One third of the provider’s services cater for children and families at risk.
What is the history of The Infants’ Home?
The Infants’ Home began in May 1874, then known as The Sydney Foundling Institute. Sydney, at the time, was “a harsh city” for women who found themselves pregnant and unmarried, and a group of women fought against accepted wisdom, the Church, the press and prominent citizens of the day to establish a home for abandoned infants and unmarried mothers with children. At the time it was established, it was the first and only home in Australia to cater for abandoned children and to provide accommodation for unmarried mothers and their babies.
After two difficult years, philanthropist Thomas Walker suggested a relocation to bigger premises, paying £3,000 in 1876 to buy the current 4.5 acre property in Henry Street, Ashfield which he donated to The Infants’ Home.
By 1889, there were 130 children and 67 mothers residing at The Infants’ Home, even though the property was fitted to accommodate only 65 children and 30 women. The first kindergarten was opened in 1897 when The Infants’ Home realised that young children needed stimulation.
The Infants’ Home was incorporated under an Act of Parliament in 1924, and established its first long day care centre in 1936. Through two World Wars, the Great Depression, outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, bubonic plague, and economic difficulties, The Infants’ Home evolved as the needs of young children and families continued to change.
In the 1970s, The Infants’ Home was the first organisation in NSW to accept Commonwealth funding and provide long day care for children from single parent families, and later for children where both parents worked or studied. Pilot schemes for family day care in five municipalities were launched so mothers could care for small groups of other people’s children in private homes.
Starting in the mid-2000s, The Infants’ Home began to offer speech pathology and occupational therapy to children with additional needs, a new early education and care centre opened to meet demand, and The Infants’ Home’s family day care service was renamed Family Day Care Sydney Wide, servicing the Inner West, Randwick and South Sydney, Mosman, Willoughby and the St George Area.
Where are The Infants’ Home services currently located?
The four long day care services – Gorton House, Johnson House, Murray House and Robinson House – all share the 4.5 acre Henry Street, Ashfield property.
Family day care services are spread throughout Sydney, with Lugarno being the southernmost service, and Avalon being the northernmost. A full list of family day care services is available here.
Family support services, including post natal care, playgroups and parenting programs are also available through The Infants’ Home.
What is The Infants’ Home’s vision and approach to early learning?
The vision of The Infants’ Home is to create a society in which each child is given the chance in early childhood to develop their abilities to meet life’s challenges and opportunities.
The Infants’ Home provides early intervention and other services for children before they go to school, particularly children and families with vulnerabilities in an environment in which the value and dignity of every child is recognised.
Are there any unique aspects to The Infants Home offer?
The Infants Home is governed by a Board of Directors with more than 100 years of combined management experience.
CEO Elizabeth Robinson held executive positions in the former National Childcare Accreditation Council, and has previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of a national membership association for learning and organisational development professionals.
What is The Infants’ Home approach to educators and their professional development?
Those who work for The Infants’ Home are able to salary sacrifice over $15,900 a year, have the option to purchase additional leave, have access to an employee assistance program, enjoy high staff/child ratios, and have access to professional development opportunities.
To learn more about The Infants’ Home, visit the website.
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