They say it takes a village to raise a child. For modern mums like Nicola and Britton, the Y’s outside of school hours care (OSHC) service plays an important role in keeping their children safe and happy when they are working.
Seven-year-old Addyson loves spending time at the beach as much as Britton does. The two spend even more time together since Britton’s mum passed away last year. For the single parent, convenience is the reason she chose the Y’s OSHC program and quality is why she stays.
“Addy has been going to OSHC for two years,” said Britton. “She does aftercare there, three to four times per week. She attends the vacation care program as well.
“I am a single parent and I work part-time. OSHC gives me time – for myself, to do the shopping, to exercise, go to medical appointments or look after my mental health. All of that has to be done after work so if I couldn’t leave Addy at the Y, I couldn’t do any of those things.
“I like that they ask children and parents for their input on what they do, it’s not just them setting things and saying ‘this is what we’ are going to do.’ The children are engaged in the planning, which means their interests are brought to the Y’s attention and the kids get to do the things they’re interested in. When they went to Taronga Zoo, Addy came home buzzing – she loved the seal show,” she said.
Britton says the food at OSHC is great – “I wish I could have some of it” – and Homework Club on Monday afternoon is helpful for parents. Knowing their child has done their homework for the week is one less thing to think about. She says it’s the ‘little things’ that make all the difference.
“Ashley is phenomenal, and they’re so understanding of different situations. During COVID when I had to go into the office, they were very accommodating and understanding. When Mum was going through all her health issues, Ashley checked in. She’s super busy and doesn’t have to do that but she always made the time.
“When everyone was making a Father’s Day gift with chocolate to give to their Dad, Ashley took time out to talk to Addy about doing something for me because I’m ‘Dad and mum’.
“I just want my daughter to feel welcome, loved and content in herself. They’re so good with her – they almost feel like an extension of our family,” Britton said.
It’s a similar story for busy working mum Nicola.
Her eight-year-old son Archie has been a regular face at OSHC since Nicola discovered the program a few years ago through school. After-school and vacation care is integral to the strategies Nicola uses to balance family and working life.
“We run a family business,” said Nicola. “My children have different sporting and extra-curricular activities and I also do marketing in the company. I was interested in it because I knew Archie would get to play sport, do arts and crafts, and learn cooking. He also had friends who went there so he could extend those friendships.
“Personally, the OSHC program helps me to manage my children effectively. Their vacation care is amazing too,” Nicola said.
Like Britton, Nicola also highlights the supportive culture. She values how Ashley and the OSHC team seek their input and appreciates the flexibility they show when unexpected things crop up.
“I love that they communicate well and reach out with ideas for my child. I get messages, updates and feedback – it’s run really well. Ashley is doing a fantastic job and it’s the best before and after-school care that I’ve ever been involved in.
“Whenever I’m in a pickle, they find a way to help me out. We run a timber and hardware store and were approached last week about a spin-off of a popular TV show. Our company put in the hard yards for that and I had to drop Archie off before school – something I haven’t had to do previously. They accommodated me immediately,” she said.
Most importantly for Nicola, OSHC lets Archie be his bright bubbly self as he shares new experiences with friends and learns more about himself. He’s loved his trips to the Museum and Luna Park and much to his parents’ surprise, the program has even provided unexpected highlights for them.
“Ashley took the initiative to set up an NRL clinic. Some South players come along and Archie has picked up some really amazing skills. Watching him play NRL was a highlight. Ashley kept coming up to me saying ‘he’s running around the oval like Forrest Gump’. He loved it and it’s amazing really, I didn’t even know he was interested in it.
“The people there care about the kids and Archie loves it. The kids never want to leave – that’s no joke. When the parents get there the kids say ‘What are you doing here, we were only halfway through’. When he leaves, he says goodbye to everyone by name. Archie just loves the team and it reflects in his happy disposition.
“Archie is such a good kid. He is a loving, kind, brave boy and always asks ‘can I help you with that?’. He even picks up rubbish. He wrote the most amazing Father’s Day poster this year at the Y with no help – it blows my mind and I’m going to get it printed. He sees the good in everyone, and I hope he’ll always be happy-go-lucky, like his Dad.”
Nicola doesn’t miss a beat when asked if she would recommend the Y’s OHSC to other parents.
“Yes, do it! It’s not just about the care, they teach life skills and other skills. As a parent who is exhausted and busy with two children, their offerings are really thought out. They keep the kids active. It’s a high-quality service – and Archie is thriving,” said Nicola.
Fittingly, we leave the final words to the children by asking them what they liked most.
“I like Y OSHC because of the sports and Ashley”, said Archie. Addy agrees: “Ashley is there!”