As a Sourcewell Child Care Provider of the Year for 2020, Carla and Onnie Tapio of Sebeka have run their family child care business for about seven years. After working as a funeral director, Carla decided to return to child care.

“I thought the happiest time of my life was when I was doing child care with my older two, who are in their 30s now,” Carla said.

The Tapios wanted to offer child care services for parents who worked late at night, similar to Carla who started her position at 2 a.m.

“As we got started, we just were like, ‘Where is our niche, what things do we need to do to fill a void in the community’ and just figured we needed to be like a 24-hour daycare and so we were open and available as often as possible, whenever families needed us not just when you want to be open,” Carla said. The business isn’t open 24-hours now.

She loves seeing when children have a “grand realization,” like zipping their own jacket or writing the first letter of their name. The Tapios work with children ages 6 weeks old to 12 years old.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“I have been to several daycare providers and this one is by far the best! My child has learned so much and is much more independent. They make the day fun and structured. They are flexible, understanding, honest, caring and love the children,” the nominator said.

Carla said she and her husband Onnie are grateful for the validation of their good program.

“It’s our life. It’s what we do. It’s not just a job, it’s our vocation and so it’s validation that we are in fact doing a good job in somebody’s eyes anyway, and all of our parents seem to be right on board with that,” Carla said.

In Todd County, Veronica Minor of Browerville also received the Child Care Provider of the Year award, which she said was a meaningful surprise. The awards were shared at Sourcewell’s virtual child care networking conference on Sept. 26. The providers are nominated by child care families or industry professionals, according to a Sourcewell news release.

“Veronica provides a stable safe environment with hands-on learning of everyday needs. She cares for my child and every other as her own. She’s AWESOME!” the nominator said.

With a wide range of ages, Minor has worked in child care for about four years. She began with the need to provide child care for her own children.

“Getting to watch them interact with each other and watching them grow up,” Minor said on what she enjoys about working with children.