‘I love them like my own’: Heidi’s passion-fuelled win
FROM the certificate lined walls in the makeshift reception to the rocking horses side-by-side next to the couch, a homely feeling is intertwined at Four lil Owls Family Day Care Service.
The warm feeling doesn’t stop at the setting, sole trader Heidi Butler treats the children she looks after like her own.
“I love watching them learn and grow,” Mrs Butler said.
Since 2015, she’s looked after about four children a day at her home-based daycare centre - a job she describes as the best in the world.
Her love for the job significantly outweighed her small enrolment numbers when she was voted as Central Queensland’s best childcare educator.
Mrs Butler received 42 votes, which accounted for 38 per cent of the 108-vote poll created by The Morning Bulletin.
She said children were always her passion.
“I was always a mother hen if there was a party I would always be playing with the little children,” she said.
After growing up in Goondiwindi, Mrs Butler moved to Rockhampton in 2009 when her family home was lost to fire.
Once she completed Year 12, it wasn’t long before she pursued her passion professionally.
“I just wanted to be like my nan - she was a director for family day care,” she said.
Mrs Butler started working at Little Zebra Childcare Centre Rockhampton in 2011 while she also trained to become a professional jockey.
She was selected to compete in America and took annual leave from the day care to pursue her dream on the track until a bad fall had her at a crossroad.
After two knee surgeries she decided to go back to her passion - children - but she wanted to do it her own way.
She approached Goondiwindi Family Day Care to become part of their education scheme, allowing her to operate her own centre from home.
“I thought I’d be too far away but it worked out,” she said.
She started the business “basically out of the loungeroom” before moving to a new house and making a purpose-built daycare underneath her Berserker home.
Watching children develop is her favourite aspect of the job, she regularly received feedback her past pupils were excelling at school and daycare once they were too old to attend her service.
Mrs Butler looks after children aged under four.
“I love them like my own. On school holidays I was lost without them,” she said.
Her enrolment capacity will go down to three a day next year when she gives birth to her own baby.
At 25-weeks pregnant, Mrs Butler is preparing to go on six months annual leave from the middle of December.
Her business also took out second place in the CQ’s best childcare centre poll with 37 votes.
Amanda Broszat from Parkhurst Early Learning was voted CQ’s second best childcare educator with 21 votes and Coastal Kids Emu Park educator Kerrie Corrigan placed third with 12 votes.