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Free AMEP childcare benefiting parents and children

By Fiona West | July 29, 2022

Free childcare is a huge benefit for parents at Navitas Skilled Futures – and their children.

Many new migrants and refugees with young children say they would not otherwise be able to attend AMEP classes to learn English, meet new people, gain independence and integrate into their communities.

Navitas Skilled Futures Bankstown currently has 61 students enrolled in the on-site free childcare with KU, for parents enrolled in the AMEP and short courses such as English for Citizenship, computer skills and IELTS preparation.

Bankstown College Academic Team Leader, Aaron Caulfield, said childcare was one of the biggest barriers to education, particularly for migrant and refugee women.

“This can leave refugees and migrants further isolated at home without support networks and community. Furthermore, their mental health can also be significantly affected,” Aaron said.

“By offering free onsite childcare to our students, we ensure that, in addition to developing their LLND skills, they have access to everything they need for their settlement and integration into the wider Australia community.

“Our students often say that Navitas is their second family. Our teachers and college staff provide information, awareness and referrals to vital services and amenities and the students build support networks with other mothers/parents and gain valuable local knowledge about resources for their children’s future.”

AMEP Bankstown student Sreydeth Mom, with daughter Erika (L), and in traditional Cambodian dress (R).

Sreydeth Mom is a student at AMEP Bankstown who says the childcare for her four-year-old daughter Erika is helping both of them improve their English and make new friends.

Sreydeth came to Australia from Cambodia in 2014 and has three children, two of whom are now at school. She said with Erika soon to be starting school too she needed to focus on her English so she could find work.

“I really enjoy my course; I have improved my English a lot and I enjoy my time with my classmates from different countries,” she said.

“I have learned about many different cultures too, and built a wonderful friendship with many students and other mothers. And our children also play together.

“My daughter likes going (to childcare). It is very good. She writes ABC for me and when she comes home she is talking English good, so I learn from her more. She can read, and she is very good with drawing, and she makes friends too.”

Navitas Skilled Futures has partnered with KU since 1998 and has onsite childcare at its Bankstown, Cabramatta, Fairfield, Liverpool and Canberra colleges. They have helped thousands of families in their settlement journeys, with more than 500 children enrolled each year.

Our childcare centres are diverse, allowing children to develop empathy, tolerance, kindness and respect.

Aaron Caulfield said the service was just as beneficial to the children as it was to their parents, empowering people to live their best lives.

“The KU centres are run by qualified experienced passionate Early Childhood Educators,” Aaron said.

The children participate in culturally and age-appropriate  play-based programs with a wide range of activities designed not only to enhance their linguistic and cognitive development but also to encourage their creativity and imagination. Our centres listen to children’s voices and encourage them to develop empathy, tolerance, kindness and respect for each other.”

KU Manager for AMEP and Community Programs, Sabira Sukurma, said the KU/NSF collaboration has been strong and successful for more than 20 years, with KU providing high quality and caring childcare environments for migrants and refugees.

She said KU bilingual staff, who had often been on the same settlement journey as migrant  parents, offered supportive, culturally sensitive learning and play spaces to children aged 0-5.

“For most parents, we are very first stop in terms of their childcare access in Australia. Many of our families  have been through a lot of traumatic settlement experiences arriving in Australia. Childcare enrolments are hard to navigate even for families who were born in Australia , let alone for families who are learning English and navigating many other settlement issues,” Sabira said.

At KU we work closely with parents to establish a sense of trust, belonging, we listen to their needs, we make sure they know who we are and that their child is in a safe place. It is a huge benefit to our families and our teams that parents can come and see their child at any time, especially when they just commence care.

“All our educators are experienced early childhood trained, so they have great skills and knowledge about young children’s developmental milestones and needs. At the same time, they have a really deep cultural awareness and competence, as culture plays such an important role in children’s development and wellbeing.”

For more information see: AMEP childcare

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