What happens when ‘the village’ we need to raise children isn’t there? When parents need to work, have other caring commitments or just need a hand with childcare, Catholic Out of School Hours Care (COSHC) is there to walk by their side.
Service Coordinator Rebecca Brown from the Good Shepherd COSHC at Plumpton feels like an extended member of some families who use the centre before and after school, and during the school holidays.
“We care for some children 11 hours a day, five days a week during the holidays. During the term some children come to us at 7am and are collected at 6pm after school,” she says.
“Families really open up to me. I’ve been invited to funerals and other family events because of the bonds we’ve formed. Often there is no extended family in Sydney. Families have to rely on us instead.”
At the 32 COSHC centres in the Diocese of Parramatta, children are not just supervised. The staff at the centre continue their faith education in a gentle way that is closer to lessons taught at home.
“We’re a classroom for life skills,” says Rebecca. “At the end of a long day at school, children are tired and need to learn to self-regulate their emotions.
“Our staff are all trained in Catholic values and we encourage the children to show these values when they play and interact with each other,” she says.
“We also give them the opportunity to ‘give back’ by taking part in fundraising initiatives.”
At the Good Shepherd COSHC there is a ‘Gospels values corner’. The children write notes about themes such as charity, hope and love which are placed in pockets in the corner. When they need quiet time, they can go to the corner, read the notes and calm down. Prayers are said in the morning and afternoon.
What about the school holidays?
“We are very aware that this is the time that other children would spend doing fun things with their parents,” says Rebecca. “We want to make sure the children at vacation care are having fun, and not feel they are missing out.
“We ask them during the term what they’d like to do for vacation care, and we plan the program around that.
“In previous years we’ve done Kung fu lessons, pizza making, bikes and scooters, African drumming and Oztag.”
When asked how parents can encourage their school-age children’s faith, Rebecca says “Simply talk about it. Talk about what ‘Our Father’ means for example. Talk about what it’s like when someone isn’t being nice and how we can forgive that person.”
Easter Holiday Vacation Care
Vacation care is available at 15 COSHC centres during the Easter school holidays. We run a fun, varied program of activities each day.
Open to all primary-aged school children regardless of school or location.
Our programs qualify for the approved Childcare Subsidy Rebate. You may be eligible to receive up to 85% rebate.
For details on COSHC and vacation care, go to parracatholic.org/childcare.
This article was originally featured in the Lent and Easter/Autumn 2021 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.