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A Day in the Life of…Denise Lakes, Parent Carer Facilitator/Family Support Worker at CDI

What’s your job here, and what do you do on a regular day?

Denise Lakes Parent Carer Facilitator

Here, Denise Lakes talks about her role as a Parent Carer Facilitator at CDI.

I have been working with CDI since 2022 in the role of PCF. Working for CDI is a privilege; Tallaght is my hometown, and with CDI, I get to be part of a wonderful, hardworking, but fun team, improving outcomes for children and families in my community.

Could you give us a snapshot of a typical day?

My role as PCF is based at StartBright, Greenhills Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24. Most days begin with meet and greets of the parents and children arriving at the Early Learning Centre. 60 children are attending the preschool for their Early Childhood Care and Education. The meet-and-greets let me get to know the children and their families/carers. 

What do you find most fulfilling and rewarding?

On a Monday morning, I set up for our toddler group, which integrates the PEEP educational programme which contains five strands of learning for toddlers: Personal, Social & Emotional, Early Literacy, Early Maths, and Health and Physical Development. The toddlers play while learning, and the parents/carers come together to support the children with their play and learning and talk with the other parents/carers. 

What is the role like?

During the week, the role of a PCF is varied. There are 1:1 meetings with parents, participation in and support of parents with Meitheal* meetings. Hosting fun family events such as the Smoothie Bike Event or Pumpkin Carving. Collaborations with other community members to find the best service or support for families and children. 

On a Friday morning, I set up the infant massage class, which takes place in Tallaght Library or Rua Red. Once set up, the parents/carers and babies arrive for their class. During the class, I teach the parents/carers how to massage their baby while teaching the benefits and history of massage. This class is so rewarding to teach, seeing the parents/carers strengthen their bonds with the babies and my work and teaching get rewarded with beautiful smiles from the babies. 

What’s the best part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing families get the support they need, and seeing the children progress and then graduate from preschool to primary school. 

Any fun, heartwarming, or unexpected moments you’ve had at work?

A fun memory of work I have is during toddler group on World Book Day. I was dressed up as a frog, and hoping I was not the only one dressed up, I looked out the door to see the toddlers dressed up as chickens, Peter Rabbit, and a pumpkin. We had a surprise visitor that day, an unannounced service inspector. I don’t think they inspected a frog before.

Any top tips or favourite quotes for our readers?

My top tip to parents is: “There are always options, even when you feel there are none.”

My favourite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” 

*Meitheal, an ancient Irish tradition of communal support, inspires Tusla’s approach to aiding children. This method coordinates services for families with additional needs, allowing practitioners from diverse agencies to communicate and collaborate effectively, addressing the child and family’s requirements within the community, regardless of meeting referral thresholds under Children First.