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Primary Caregiving

Future Focus Livingstone Drive is implementing primary caregiving in their Kirikahurangi and Waireti rooms. Hear from Kaiako Kendall about the benefits and why their team chose to utilise primary caregiving.

The primary caregiving philosophy centers around trust and whānaungatanga (relationships). The role of a primary caregiver is to provide responsive, secure relationships for the children in their care. Continuity of care is the focus of primary caregiving, ensuring tamariki feel supported throughout their daily routines and ongoing learning journey.

Why primary caregiving?

From research, we know how important the first one thousand days in a child’s life are. The development of the brain and body are critical during these early years. Forming secure attachments is fundamental for children to develop into happy and healthy young people. As educators, we are responsible for ensuring the tamariki in our care for feel safe and have a strong sense of mana whenua (belonging). Primary caregiving supports the notion that children thrive when they have a secure attachment with a trusted adult. Parents and whānau also benefit from primary caregiving. The partnership between the primary carer and whānau is formed early on and is consistent throughout the child’s time in care. Strong and clear lines of communication are at the heart of these partnerships which creates positive learning outcomes for tamariki. The primary carer learns the child’s rhythms, needs, interests and strengths, this lays the foundation for their learning journey.


An Effective Transitioning Process

Primary caregiving begins at a child’s first settling visits. Whānau spend time communicating with their child’s interests, needs and strengths to the primary caregiver, this includes communicating how the child likes to be fed and their sleep time routine. The primary caregiver will closely follow what is happening at home, so the child has a familiar experience. The child and new kaiako spend much one-on-one time together, getting to know each other. Tamariki build trust quickly when they know there is a permanent person they can rely on to meet their needs.


What does it look like in practice?

In an early childhood setting, primary care looks like each kaiako having a select number of primary care children. For example, if there were 16 pēpi in a room and 4 kaiako, each kaiako would have four pēpi in their primary care. The primary caregiver may change if the child chooses another kaiako and connects with their personality more. The goal is to create safe and secure attachments, so it is important to be flexible. The primary caregiver becomes responsible for the children’s care moments; nappy changes, providing bottles, support during sleep times. Over time, kaiako become attuned to the children’s cues of hunger, tiredness or changes in behavior and can respond attentively. Respectful practice is strongly linked with primary caregiving. Offering children choices, asking them questions and communicating throughout intimate care moments ensures tamariki maintain autonomy. Respectful practice teaches children that their choices matter and they are valued as individuals. It is the kaiako responsibility to always uplift a child’s mana by always treating them with respect.