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Picnic in the park . . . Enjoying Oamaru’s Queens Reserve are Issak Alexander (3), Sophie Hollows (2), Lakyn Byrne (3), Barnardos home-based educator Shannon Poulson, sisters Oakleigh (2) and Peyton Auley (4), Aubree Sheat (3), and home-based educator Rebecca McIntosh. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Barnardos is on the lookout for more home-based educators in Oamaru.

Barnardos teacher Debbie Familton said the New Zealand children’s charity was experiencing a shortage in home-based educators across the South Island, and many children ready to enter care were stuck on a waiting list.

Ms Familton expected many parents were having to make other arrangements for child care or extend their maternity leave. But for some, their problem could also be the solution.

Ms Familton said a lot of home-based educators tended to have young children themselves, enabling them to earn an income while caring for their own children at home.

That was the case for Shannon Poulson, who has been a home-based educator for the past 15 years.

Ms Poulson first started working as a home-based educator when her daughter Jess Crossley (16) was 1, as it allowed her to work from home rather than working around her partner’s work schedule.

‘‘It works really well,’’ she said.

‘‘I really enjoy the kids, I have lots of fun.’’

Over the years, Ms Poulson had made close family friends with parents of the children she cared for, many becoming like extended family.

Ms Familton said each educator could have up to four children, all under the age of 5, in their home, and they would provide a combination of care and education.

They did not need a background in early childhood education, but were required to have current first aid qualifications. Training was ongoing as visiting teachers such as Ms Familton offered mentoring and support.

Home-based educators also had the opportunity to complete a level 4 certificate in early childhood education and care.

Anyone interested in becoming a home-based educator can contact Ms Familton on 027 202-3029 or apply online at barnardos.org.nz/hbcareers.