Tatura’s Toni Serra has been practising childcare for more than 20 years and was this month named an Excellence in Family Day Care regional winner.
Mrs Serra was nominated by the families who use her day-care service for her outstanding work with local children.
From being nominated she then submitted her own application detailing her philosophy and work practices, which highlighted her passion for working with children and supporting local families within the Tatura community.
She decided to open up shop at home when funding was pulled from occasional care five years ago.
‘‘I was actually working in the occasional care field when funding was taken away from the government, so I decided there was a need for family day care in Tatura and I thought why not,’’ Mrs Serra said.
‘‘One of my families that I was taking care of at occasional care even came across with me, which was great,’’ she said.
Mrs Serra said she had a long history of working in childcare services.
‘‘I’ve always done childcare because I had worked as a reliever as well, and part time doing occasional care and occasional care for the council and thought, you know what I might combine it at home,’’ she said.
Mrs Serra said the children saw her as more of a fun aunty than an educator.
‘‘We go to the park, we go to the library, we go pretty much everywhere and the children are so much fun, they are hilarious, the things they come up with,’’ she said.
Mrs Serra is now in the running to win the title of Victorian and Tasmanian Educator of the Year, which will be announced on August 6.
If successful, she will be flown to the Gold Coast for the Family Day Care Australia triennial conference and gala ball, where she could then be crowned National Family Day Care Educator of the Year.
Mrs Serra said she hoped to put Tatura on the map for family day care.
‘‘I’m very humble about the whole experience, I just feel very privileged and it’s lovely to be recognised,’’ she said.
Greater Shepparton City Council community director Kaye Thomson said it was very pleasing that an educator with council achieved this level of recognition for her work.
‘‘Toni has demonstrated professionalism in her practice as a family day care educator and has developed great relationships with the children and their families,’’ Ms Thomson said.
‘‘Toni is focused on providing quality care for the children and caters for the diversity of the children she looks after, ensuring they enjoy their experience and learn new things at the same time.’’