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Key Carer - Yes Or No?


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Hi all

 

I've inherited a difficult situation and would appreciate your opinions as to how to make the best of it.

 

I'm the business manager of a sessional playgroup with four members of staff (inc manager). One of our staff (who I shall call Mary) has another job and has to leave 30mins before the end of the session to get there. Our manager is supernumery and is included in the ratios for those last 30mins.

 

However, both the manager and I are concerned that by leaving early Mary is not fulfilling her role of key carer. She is great with the kids and friendly to the parents but obviously does not take part in the home time routine and it is left to the manager to feedback to parents at the end of the session.

 

We are thinking of asking Mary to try to arrange to stay for the full session from September but if she can't our other option is to not have her as a key carer, but instead give her other tasks such as setting up/clearing away for snack time, managing craft area, etc.

 

We are going to speak with her next week before we break up but do you think this is reasonable or would you be happy to have a key carer leave early every day?

 

Any opinions gratefully received.

 

Cheers

 

RR

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Hello there

 

I have a mix of full and part time key people in my room in a full daycare setting. One of the best and most conscientious of them works from 9 am to 1.15pm four days per week and rarely has the chance to see parents. She has six key children and writes up details for parents in the home school link book every session, keeps thorough records and observations, does extras, is very supportive to the team as a whole and often does cover for staff on holiday. She is a single mum with three children and can never stay after 3pm or arrive early.

 

While we follow the key person system as far as possible, all staff take responsibility at times for each of the children at the setting and messages are always passed on to parents at handover. Maybe this person needs the extra money the other job provides? If I were Mary I might feel upset at being 'demoted' in the way you suggest. Just a thought.

 

Lesley

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Another way round this would be to operate a paired and shared key caring system. That way the parents would have two key practitioners to talk to about their child, and the key carers could work closely together to ensure that the child's individual needs are being met even when the main key carer is not on duty.

 

I think Mary would indeed feel very demotivated, and unless you handle it very carefully she might well consider you have constructively dismissed her.

 

I'd certainly take advice before you decide what to do!

 

Good luck

Maz

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Our nursery has team of 4 and 3 of us work 4 days only and the teacher gets a day PPA so someone is always missing.We use paired keypeople-Teacher plus T/A so there is always one of us available.Parents seem happy with it as some days there are 2 of their child's key worker so if one is talking theres a backup plan. :o

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We too have a paired keyperson system and in the unlikely event of neither being available to a parent at the start/end of session, as manager I would make a point of feeding back to the parent. I too would think and tread carefully. As with lesleypimperne all our staff will get to know all the /children/parents making notes, feeding back etc. If 'Mary' is completing info in the book and is available at the start of the session and (more importantly) this situation has been discussed in advance with her key families so they know who to approach in her absence I for one would not be too worried about it.

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We have 2 staff in the mornings and two or three (depending on numbers) in the afternoon.

 

Our parents don't seem to mind who feeds back info as long as someone does if it is important!

 

Parents also talk to any member of staff that they choose to talk to.

 

In essence maybe this paired key worker system might work better for you and your team?

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I agree with others comments, as you say 'Mary is great with the kids and friendly to the parents' a key component of a key persons role.

I too used the paired system when I had my preschool. As well as the reasons already mentioned, this works well in terms of having 2 peoples views on the key childrens progress / needs etc. This 'shared opinions' enables a more objective reflection and for example prevents pre-conceived expectations of an individual toward a childs behaviour / abilities etc.

 

In my setting all staff had the responsibilities for snacks, craft area, setting up and other 'routine' tasks, they worked as a team in terms of 'practice' within these areas, however I did delegate responsibilities to individuals for maintaining stock levels etc in these areas, maybe you could consider this type of responsibility for Mary, or ask her what further responsibilities she would be interested in taking on.

 

Has the early leaving always been the case since she was first employed? I ask because if it is it would have been agreed by all so to change it now, in the way you suggest, could be construed as demotion.

 

Let us know how you work this one out, I'm sure others would be interested and could learn from your experience.

 

Peggy

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We work shifts as we are open from 8.30 - 6pm and I would not want staff to be working for that length of a day so we have paired key people, if your main key person greets you, they wont be there at the end of the day, (depending on the hours the children do), some do see their main key person at the beginning and at the end of the day. If the main key person wont see the parents/carers she writes up a daily diary for the 2nd key person to pass on and give feedback with, our parents seem happy with this.

If 'Mary' is a valued member of staff then I think it is important that she remains so, in my experience valuable staff are hard to find, keep them when you can.

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Thanks for the advice so far - it's really good to get others' opinions.

 

It might be worth me just adding that we are mornings only so we lose Mary for 1/5 of every day. This was the contract she was on when manager and I came on board. Although contracts will have to be changed in the next 12 months when we move to 3 hours - because all of the other staff have childcare/school drop offs so we can't start any earlier and will have to stay open an extra 1/2 hour at the end. This will mean that Mary will effectivly only work 2/3 of a session each day.

 

The leaving early also impacts on her training as her other employer won't let her take time off for week day stuff and she won't/can't do weekends so it's all a bit of a pain really.

 

Cheers

 

RR

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we too did a shared key person system, with part time staff, and part time children we could never guarantee that one person could be there all the time their child was.. it was impractical to even think they could..

 

with such a small team as ours 6 at most, we found parents and children were never really worried about key person , and were happy to talk to all about things, so long as someone gave feedback if it was needed. we also felt children benefited as tehy did not get so attached to one person that if they were away it caused a problem..

 

as to hours, as manager I was counted in ratio anyway, and we ensured we had a high ratio so that if someone had to go it was not an issue..

 

don't know about the legalities of changing a contract but have a feeling it has to be in discussion with the staff.. ours were not for a number of hours a week, and hence were not changed when we increased to full day, meant we could ask staff to be flexible.

 

many of ours also had second jobs.. could not work certain hours because of it... unfortunately we found it more and more as income form the preschool was not enough, even when full time, and they needed the money.

 

I'm afraid we worked around all those who had them, other staff covered the extra hours needed, we cascaded down courses and information where we could, it was not easy but managed it. our biggest issue ended up with tax office who really could not cope with people with 3 jobs!

 

Inge

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As part of the EYFS you are required to have a second keyperson available in the event of the first absence. We are a sessional group and only have one staff member who works all sessions so it is really difficult when allocating staff to children esepecailly when they want to increase their days . We also We have five members of staff and operate a buddy system for the children. We also use home link books.

 

smiles

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As part of the EYFS you are required to have a second keyperson available in the event of the first absence.

Can you tell me where it says that in the documentation, Smiles? That might prove a bit of a lever if staff think its not just the leader saying we need this system, but is part of the welfare requirements!

 

Maz

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Hi Maz

It's on the card 2.4 Positive Relationships-Key Person.

In effective practice it states

"Provide a second key person for children so that when the main key person is away there is a familiar and trusted person who knows the child well."

Linda

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It's on the card 2.4 Positive Relationships-Key Person.

Thanks Linda - that would fall under the category of 'good practice' rather than a statutory requirement wouldn't it? However I'm sure that will help people to think carefully about whether their key person/carer system is meeting children's needs effectively.

 

Maz

 

PS Can you tell I'm not overly familiar with the cards? :o Another job for the holidays!

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If only I had the holidays to look at the cards xD . We are very behind the key person approach and it is one of the reasons we don't take chidlren until they are 7 mnths old unlike a lot of day care settings, this is because babies cannot form a secondary attachment until they are 6 mths old. I find the chidlren do favour their key person who carries out all the intimate or bonding type of duties but they also survive if they are not around as sadly I have to allow staff to take annual leave :o . Our ethos is support by Sir Richard Bowlby who is a patron of our centre :(

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My team only have 3 key children per day (under 3's) and as I said we have a second key person for each child therefore there is usually a 1st or 2nd key person there at the end of the session. In pre-school we have a different ratio but we are lucky that we now have a permenant fulltime staff team for the first time in three years :o

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