Yappera children’s service today remains a Community controlled, governed and managed Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service incorporating a holistic approach to children’s and family needs. The Service is governed by seven (7) Aboriginal board members who are elected at the Annual General Meetings for a two year term. An Aboriginal Manager who was appointed by the board of management manages the service on a daily basis. The manager is accountable and reports to the board of management.
Yappera has expanded in size to a sixty place purpose built Service which includes long day care, Early start 3-4 year old kindergarten, 4-5 year old kindergarten, vacation care and a variety of Maternal child health and Specialist Care programs and Services that support children’s development and wellbeing.
The Service employs a combination of Aboriginal as well as non-Aboriginal educators. Many of the non-Aboriginal educators have been working within the Service for many years. The Service has ensured an Aboriginal manager and high ratio of Aboriginal staff are employed in all programs to support non-Aboriginal staff when developing programs and building and maintaining strong and collaborative relationships with families. The Service maintain a strong Commitment to up skilling staff and support educators who wish to peruse studies in a higher level qualifications This is with the intent of enhancing children’s development by having a high percentage of staff with high level qualifications. Including diploma and degree level.
The Aboriginal manager and educators play a key role in the planning and development of the core educational programs ensuring that there is a strong emphasis on cultural activities.
Research evidence shows that children learn and thrive within an environment that they feel comfortable within, familiar with, feel a strong sense of culture and pride and have a secure relationship and attachment with their caregivers.
The quality of Service delivery and practices follow very closely with generalist children’s Service providers and Yappera must comply with the same National Laws and National Regulations under the National Quality Framework in order to be licensed. Yappera, as with MAC and BBF Services Nationally are currently exempt from participation and compliance with the National Quality Standards. This is currently being reviewed and will be re-considered at between 2012 – 2014 following a National consultation process with the BBF and MACS Services that will involve a culturally appropriate set of Standards and a transition period for implementation. An implementation date is yet to be determined and will be post January 2014.
Yappera differs significantly to generalist Services as Yappera is a Service that caters specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has a high percentage of Aboriginal staff employed and Aboriginal culture is the foundation and forefront of all education programs and practices.
Children learning within an environment that places a strong emphasis on Aboriginal culture with learn with a strong sense and value of their identity and pride in being Aboriginal.
Principles and practices implemented at Yappera align with the National Quality Framework and the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. Educators throughout the Service have adopted a similar approach to developing strong and collaborative relationships with families, planning, implementing programs and activities and reflective practice techniques for evaluating programs.
Yappera promotes good health, nutrition and physical activity for children and families in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) nutrition team, the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Darebin Community Health and the Kids Go for Your Life Resources. This ensures that every child’s immunisations are up to date, regular health checks are conducted, specialists are sought where required and children receive a balance of exercise and healthy meals whilst at Yappera. Health, physical activity and nutrition resources are also developed for families.
MAC Services remain under considerable pressure to fall in line with generalist service requirements, in particular, the National Quality Framework requirements which include increased staff qualification requirements and compliance with the National Quality Standards. Many of the NQS requirements are not appropriate and do not align with MACS Service practices nor do they measure the quality in relation to holistic Service provision that MACS Services offer.
The challenge is that the MACS Service/BBF budget does not equate to the Service operational costs. Services such as Yappera operate off of a minimal budget and operational costs including salaries and on-costs significantly exceed the income received. The remaining funds are often sought through fees, peer Organisation support, one-off grants and philanthropic trusts but these funds are not guaranteed or ongoing.
Business planning and strategic development of Yappera and other MAC Services is also difficult as BBF funding agreements are only offered on twelve (12) month funding agreements so this places additional in-security regarding the long-term viability of services difficult.
The Yappera Board of Management remain focused when discussing business and future planning on the original philosophy of Yappera Children’s Service and what the Organisation was set up to achieve. The service has expanded over the years but future visions will always remain in line with that of the founding members.
From the beginning, the founding members and directors have always believed that eventually the Organisation would grow and develop to it’s full potential continuing to expand on quality early childhood education, programs and Services offered to children and families. Yappera Children’s Service was never intended just to be a small childcare centre. The goal remains to fully develop the resources of the Organisation so that the Service are able to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.