by Dr. Sarah Farquar - New Zealand - Child Care Forum

We could be seeing dads working as educators and more kids benefiting from contact with men if Dean Severinsen has his way.

Less than 2% of staff employed at childcare and kindergarten centres are men, and men are even scarcer in licensed home-based ECE.

Many children in NZ spend little or no time in the company of a responsible male adult. Few Dads get the opportunity to spend meaningful periods of time with their own children.

With government policy continuing to promote children spending longer hours in non-parental ECE the problem will worsen.

But a planned new home-based ECE service called ‘Dino’s Daddy Daycare’ is set to challenge this.

Dino’s Daddy Daycare is not likely to run into problems with anti-discriminatory laws because in any industry where there is a gender imbalance it is possible to target recruitment. Organisations that have gender-specific membership criteria such as women’s-only gyms are allowed.

The new service will be targeting dads specifically in recruitment but “Men who do not have children of their own and women who value what the service is aiming to achieve and want to join as educators will be welcomed to apply to be educators also” , says Severinsen.

Starting in Christchurch the new service may branch out into other areas.

In a former life Severinsen was a stay at home Dad, caring for two sons.

“Having been back in the workforce for nearly a year, I still have a wonderful relationship with my sons, and I put this down to the time that I was able to spend with them when they were younger.

It occurred to me that all Dads should have the opportunity that I had, and from that idea Dino’s Daddy Daycare was born,” says Severinsen.

Severinsen is not naive and expects he will face criticism from detractors but he also knows there will be many who will support this new concept.

At present Severinsen is carrying out a feasibility study and is seeking interest and feedback on setting up a home-based service where the main educators are dads.