Childcare director qualifies 600 kilometres from TAFE
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
The director of a childcare centre in remote Queensland completed her childcare qualifications while living and working 600 kilometres away from Mt Isa TAFE.
Stacy Walters, indigenous student and director of the Karumba Children's Centre in Karumba in Gulf of Carpentaria, says she juggled work and study with a family of her own, but the effort was worth it.
"I have had great support from Mt Isa TAFE over the years," she said.
"The TAFE is about 600km away but we have regular and planned contact with our teachers by email, phone and sometimes through video conferencing."
A fee waiver, through the Commonwealth's Early Childhood Workforce Strategy, had helped with costs by eliminating all or most of her enrolment fees.
"That was a really good thing for me. When you are working on a childcare wage, it does not really leave much for anything else," she said.
"It meant I was able to stay in the community and give back to the community."
She completed her Certificate III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Childcare Services over six years. She was named Trainee of the Year at Mt Isa TAFE in 2006 for her study ethic.
However, her career really kick started when she took her own children to childcare.
"My littlest was attending and, when I came in with her, I stayed and played and I enjoyed it so much that when the job came available, I applied for it."
"I started out as an unqualified assistant. That is where everyone starts out. I was actually employed through a Child Development Program," she said.
After gaining her diploma, the director left and there was "no one to take over the centre".
So she stepped up.
"It is rewarding seeing the kids each day and their faces when you walk in the room. They run and give you a hug and say 'good morning' and everything. And once you start connecting with families you become an important part of the community."
In a remote township of only 600 people, finding qualified employees to staff the childcare centres is difficult.
"If you have someone wanting to start in the industry, you have to start from scratch. But you are never alone. Everybody has had to do the same study and we all understand the time it takes."
Ms Walters has now become a TAFE tutor, helping staff and other local students get their own qualifications.
"I want to pass on the skills and make sure we have the best centre," she said.
"I am a firm believer in making it magic for children and making the centre inviting so children want to learn."
TAFE Queensland Chief Operating Officer Deb Daly said the fee waiver is to provide a childcare workforce with high level qualifications and a strong foundation for the health and development of Queensland children.
"Between 2008 and 2009, enrolments in Queensland's Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses in Children's Services have increased from 2061 to 4659 respectively," Ms Daly said.
"This is a 126 percent increase and may be directly attributed to the Federal Government's initiative to waive the regulated fees."