Mary Tibaldo, a family provider in Brown County, retired last month after 35 years caring for young children. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mary on her last day open and asked her what advice she would give someone who wants to start their own center?
“You have to be flexible, there are so many different family situations and the needs of each family are different. You have to be able to make adjustments as you go and be the jack of all trades.” Mary also stresses that building relationships with each one of the families you care for is very important. Lastly, “Keep up with the changes!” Mary says, there are SO many changes with licensing rules, YoungStar Quality Rating And Improvement System, your own personal family life… it’s important to stay on top of them all.
Mary began her journey as a stay-at-home mother caring for her own children in Merrill Wisconsin. Mary’s husband worked for the school in Merrill and ran into times when he needed to call for a substitute teacher and couldn’t get one easily because the substitutes struggled to make last minute arrangements for child care for their own children. So he asked Mary if she wouldn’t mind watching these children. After some time doing this Mary decided to make it her career and went back to school to get certified and to get her preschool certificate.
In 1997 Mary and her family moved to De Pere, WI where she worked for a local childcare center while their new home was being built. Mary turned the whole basement level of that home into a licensed family childcare center with the help from her local pre-licensing specialist. When it was finished in 1998 she began accepting enrollment and was quickly busy running a center.
One of Mary’s biggest struggles with running an in home center was becoming so attached to the children she cared for. “They really became a part of our family” said Mary. Also, Mary firmly believes that taking time for your own family is extremely important and DO NOT forget to take time for yourself. You could tell the minute you walked into Mary’s home that she really loved what she was doing and every child in her care was important to her.
Thank you Mary for your 35 years of being a family provider. You have made a difference in many families’ lives. Enjoy your retirement.