UNITING Wimmera family day care educator Collette Okely has been named a regional winner in the 2017 excellence in family day care awards.
Mrs Okely said she was humbled by the recognition, having operated her home-based business, Okely Dokely Family Day Care, for less than two years.
She said her business filled a desperate need for childcare in Murtoa.
“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,” she said.
Before becoming a family day care educator, Mrs Okely 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,” she said.
Mrs Okely said the career change was an opportunity to create more time for her family while still earning an income.
“For me, family day care is more than just a job – it’s a lifestyle and allows me to bring my family, my home and my passion in caring for children together.”
Mrs Okely was nominated by Brianna Childs, a mother of a child who attends her service.
Ms Childs said the small community of Murtoa was lucky to have someone offering a dedicated family day care service in town.
She said Mrs Okely had helped her daughter grow and learn.
“She encourages the children to be independent and opens their minds to imagine all the possibilities,” she said.
“I have seen [my daughter’s] vocabulary grow, confidence soar and motor skills develop.”
Ms Childs said Mrs Okely was a professional, honest, organised and hard working woman. She said she was always approachable and keen to assist with the children’s development.
Uniting Wimmera early years and early prevention coordinator Katrina Scimone said Mrs Okely was a positive role model for other educators in family day care.
“She has an amazing program and uses her strong relationships within the local community to support the children’s creativity, learning and growth,” she said.
Mrs Okely is now in the running to be a national finalist, which will be announced on September 25.