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PORSE educator story: Little Treasures

PORSE educator Amber Blakesley has come full circle, back to a career she always knew she would have one day.

From her home in Hastings she shares with her partner and two small children, Amber runs her PORSE business, looking after one-year-old daughter Bodhi and two other children. It’s a complete change of environment for the 40 year-old, who only joined PORSE in July 2018.

For the past eight years Amber has been working in the wine industry. “It was an extremely busy career, working in high level sales and marketing roles. I loved it, but a series of personal events changed my direction and saw me return to my first interest – children,” she explains.

When Amber was in her mid-20s, she was very keen on becoming a school teacher. “I’d always been interested in human development and I volunteered in schools. I even got accepted into Teachers College. But then my mother passed away, which changed the course of my life. I had already lost my father so it was a definite turning point.”

Amber’s mother had always encouraged her to travel, which she did, living in the UK and Europe for several years before returning to NZ and advance her wine career. In 2017, Amber fell pregnant and six months later, was made redundant from her job. She says it was at that point “everything changed”.

“I was devastated. I had a baby on the way and suddenly my career, income and security was whipped out from under me. When Bodhi was born I thought what am I going to do? I knew I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world. I worried about how I could work, manage the household and care for Bodhi.

“I looked at my little girl and thought how much I wanted her to have someone in her life who understood the importance and advantage of attachment in those early years. My mind started to drift back to being a teacher and I started to revisit my natural love for teaching and child development.”

A “light bulb moment” clarified Amber’s next step.

“I realised I could be an in-home educator and look after Bodhi and other children. I could offer parents exactly what I was hoping to find, a home away from home. It was like a switch had been turned on.”

Amber is one of 1,100 PORSE educators who care for more than 3,000 families’ children. She chose PORSE after researching three providers.

“What sold me on PORSE was the support they give to both the educator and the children. They offer online qualification programmes including in-house webinars so I can upskill while I work. They were so professional and it felt like they were supporting us from day one.”

For new educators, PORSE offers a $500 business start-up package that includes initial marketing collateral. As all PORSE in-home educators are self-employed contractors, it was essential to Amber that she understood how to run her own business.

“I wasn’t sure how hard setting up a business would be. But I needn’t have worried. PORSE helped me with a lot of the administration and advice around taxation, charging rates and finances. They also take care of my payroll. With that support, I can concentrate on what I do best – caring for children.”

Amber has just completed a six week course on early childhood development and will shortly begin studying for her NZ Certificate in Early Childhood Education (Level 4), a qualification PORSE has developed and offers free to educators.

The benefits of one-on-one connections formed during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are well documented. With lower ratio numbers in an in-home setting, there is more time available for each child, giving both carer and child more quality time to connect on an authentic level.

“If a child is into something particular, like space or animals for example, we can tailor learning activities. The impact of being home in the first three years and having a connection with a primary or secondary caregiver is essential for future development. PORSE is the closest thing to a child staying at home with their primary caregiver - the most natural, beneficial relationship for them.”

Would she go back to her old job? Never, says Amber. “I’m fairly close to what I was earning in my other jobs and paying half the rate of tax. And I don’t have that pressure, childcare costs or the stress of getting myself and children out the door in the morning.”

Taking the leap and starting a new career as an in-home educator has been the best decision Amber says she’s ever made.

“I get to run my own business and have the ultimate flexibility. I’m available for Bodhi and also for my step-daughter Sophie, for when she comes home from school and during school holidays.

“I’ve fulfilled my dream of a career with children and it’s working so well for me.”