Uniting Wimmera Family Day Care Educator, Collette Okely, has been named a regional winner in the 2017 Excellence in Family Day Care Awards.
Collette was nominated by Brianna Childs, the mother of a child who attends her service.
Brianna said the small community of Murtoa was very lucky to have someone like Collette offering a dedicated family day care service in their town.
“Collette has helped my daughter to grow and learn; she encourages the children to be independent and opens their minds to imagine all the possibilities.
“In the time that Collette has cared for my daughter I have seen her vocabulary grow, confidence soar and motor skills develop. My two-year old daughter’s kindness and compassion for others is unbelievable,” Brianna said.
Brianna said Collette was a professional, honest, organised and hard working woman, always approachable and keen to assist with the children’s development.
Having operated her home based business for less than two years; Collette was humbled by the recognition.
“It is an incredible honour just to be nominated, then to go on and win the award for our region is overwhelming to say the least.
“I’m so very thankful for the support of the local community, my family and friends,” Collette said.
Before becoming a family day care educator, Collette said life was a juggling act.
“My husband and I found ourselves tag teaming, he would work days and I would work the night shift at Kmart.”
A mother of four herself; Collette saw the career change as an opportunity to create more time for her family while still earning an income.
“We made the changes needed to our home and I completed my diploma of early childhood education and care.
“It was a huge change to our family but one that we are so glad we made.”
Collette said her business Okely Dokely Family Day Care filled a desperate need for childcare in Murtoa and she now had an extensive waiting list.
“I have always had a passion for early year’s education and have a firm belief that early learning forms our foundations of who we are to become.
“For me family day care is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle, allowing me to bring my family, my home and my passion in caring for children together.”
Uniting Wimmera Early Years and Early Prevention Coordinator Katrina Scimone said Collette’s award was huge recognition of the amount of work Collette has done in Family Day Care over the past 12 months.
“Collette has an amazing program and uses her strong relationships within the local community to support the children’s creativity, learning and growth. She is a great role model for other educators in family day care,” Katrina said.
Collette is now in the running to be a national finalist.
National finalists will be announced on September 25, with winners announced on October 28 at a gala dinner in Sydney.
Family Day Care is education and care for children in an educator’s own home or approved venue, Uniting Wimmera provides support for the educators to operate their own childcare business.
Family Day Care is one of many high quality early childhood education and care services that the community service organisation offers to support children and families.
Uniting Wimmera’s Family Day Care services run across Horsham Rural City, Ararat Rural City, Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack and West Wimmera Shires.
To find out more about becoming a family day care educator or enrolling in a family day care service, get in touch with Uniting Wimmera on 5362 4000.