No matter if you use it to share your service’s rich history or to highlight news and events taking place day-to-day, Facebook offers a very affordable tool to stay in touch with your community.

Camille Howard talks to three services embracing the social media tool to stay in touch.

Whether you’re a ‘Facebook person’ or not, it’s clear to the growing number of services using the social media site that there are many benefits in creating a Facebook page to showcase your service and connect with like-minded educators and advocates around the world.

And while many services use Facebook as a free advertising or marketing tool, for the most part it presents a low-cost device for communicating and sharing information—on a national and even international scale. ‘We’ve met friends overseas and we can Skype them and the kids talk to each other,’ explains Jo O’Brien, co-founder of Platinum Preschool in Sydney’s Randwick (

‘Sharing ideas, no matter what nationality, everything is the same when it comes to the development of kids.’

Platinum Preschool posts regular photos and observations about the children’s day, which Ms O’Brien says helps parents feel connected with the children after they drop them off. ‘When I was dropping my child off to preschool I didn’t know what they were doing that day,’ she says. ‘People are so time poor, if they can check something on their computer or phone at lunch, it just puts in the back of their head what to discuss with their kids that afternoon.’

Darren Horrigan from The Infants Home in Ashfield, Sydney, agrees that for even a self-proclaimed novice user, the communication opportunities available since creating a Facebook page 18 months ago have been considerable. ‘Not a day goes by when there’s not something happening here that someone like me can turn into a photo album, a milestone, a little story for Facebook.’

For Mr Horrigan, media relations officer, the ‘light bulb moment’ came when Facebook changed its format to the Timeline. In this format, you can post a collection of photos and stories that tell the story of your service, and allow visitors to your page to jump to stories from your past to get a real sense of the history of your service—a big plus for The Infants Home ( theinfantshome).

‘We have such a long and rich history and the chronological presentation of where we’ve come from is perfect for us,’ explains Mr Horrigan. ‘It took some time to get right but we always knew it was going to be worth it—if we were going to tell such a full story we had to make use of the rich history and the wonderful old photographs we had.’ To get started, Mr Horrigan visited blogs and talked to experienced social media users to understand how The Infants Home could communicate with not just families, but the wider early childhood care and education community.

‘We’re building a new early education learning centre which will become a hub in the inner west for all things to do with early education, early intervention and allied health services. We realised we had a much bigger job at communicating who we are, what we do, who we do it for and why we do it, and we needed to employ as many communication tools as possible.’

The big push for establishing a Facebook page for Clare Court Children’s Service in Melbourne ( pages/Clare-Court-Childrens-Service) coincided with renovations to bring its long day care, kindergarten, play groups and maternal and child health services under one roof. ‘A lot of families were feeling like there were a lot of things going on around them and they weren’t feeling connected to it,’ says Catherine Cenandez-Button, Director of Integrated Services. ‘I didn’t feel we were going to have the support of the families if they didn’t feel like they were a part of what’s going on.’

Now Clare Court’s Facebook page is used to share details about the program, inspiring initiatives from overseas, political debates, union information and other early years information. ‘It’s also creating relationships with places [that are] supporting what’s going on in the early years sector,’ says Ms Cenandez-Button.

A benefit of creating these relationships and communicating regularly via Facebook is you’re reaching an engaged audience—as opposed to sending a blanket email to your database, for example, people have to Like your page to start receiving your posts, so they are actively opting to stay connected.

User guidelines

Once you decide to create a Facebook page, you need to set clear guidelines or a social media policy around how your page is to be used, by whom, and to ensure you cover privacy and ethical issues.

Selecting an ‘administrator’ who monitors all posts and comments from your friends is a good place to start. A policy at Platinum Preschool, for example, dictates that although all educators are encouraged to contribute to the Facebook page, nothing is posted unless approved first by Ms O’Brien or co-founder Nichola Mclean.

They also have a strict permissions policy, Ms O’Brien says. ‘At the beginning of every year we get permission from the parents to use their children’s photos and videos on Facebook and the internet.’

Managing risks

Guild Insurance offers some key tips to share with all employees about using both personal and professional Facebook pages:

  • Take care when making comments about anyone, including employees, colleagues, clients or other service providers.
  • The rules governing client privacy equally apply to web-based technologies. Carers and supervisors must always gain the client’s express consent to what information will be used, and how it will be shared. A client’s personal information should not be shared online, except in accordance with the centre’s privacy policy. Ensure your privacy policy addresses social media.
  • Avoid falling victim to identity theft by limiting the amount of personal information you disclose on social media sites.
  • Maintain secure access to all smart phones and computers.
  • Activate password-protected screen savers on all computers and ensure employees always log off before leaving.
  • When sharing information via social media, ensure you set high privacy or security settings and think carefully before divulging your home address or other personal information.
  • Maintain security of any social media accounts set up in your centre’s name. Strict control of what information is added to your Facebook page or who is moderating blogs is essential for protecting your good reputation.
  • Consider including specific conditions in employee contracts and policies relating to social media use.
  • Periodically scan online content related to your centre. Consider how you will respond to any negative posts before the situation arises.

This is an edited excerpt from an article, Social Media Risk—Child Care, used with permission of Guild Insurance. For the whole article head to

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