Imagine Spotlight: Marion Hedin
This week, we’re proud to feature child care provider Marion Hedin from Port Angeles.
Marion Hedin has more than four decades of child care experience, including running Country Fun Childcare and Preschool LLC from her home in Port Angeles for the past 18 years.
She had always enjoyed working with children, and becoming a child care provider gave her the opportunity to spend more time with her son when he was young. Over the years, she’s gained experience and expertise, including working with high-needs families and children on the autism spectrum.
She said she’s stayed with child care for the joy of watching children learn.
“The growth that they gain through their everyday interactions—you can just see it. Their development is just wonderful to watch through the years.”
HELPING HIGH-NEEDS FAMILIES
Early in her career, Marion worked with Head Start, which included many high-needs families.
When she decided to return to school, she discovered a program through Western Washington University that allowed her to get her degree in human services, which focuses on community service and advocacy. All her studies were on the internet—a surprising opportunity, considering it was the late 1990s. Marion was the first person to graduate from Western entirely online.
Later, she had the opportunity to expand her education and gain even more knowledge about working with at-risk children and their families. She earned her master’s degree from Capella University online in December 2004.
BRINGING TRAINING TO A RURAL AREA
Marion wanted to bring educational opportunities to others. Because Port Angeles is a rural area, child care providers in her region have limited options for training nearby.
After participating in several Imagine Institute trainings, Marion started helping recruit others. Once she found enough people who wanted to attend a training, she would work with Imagine staff to schedule a date.
“I would spend a lot of time calling, emailing, messaging, texting all my friends and colleagues that were family home child care providers. … It met the needs of what we needed to do in our area.”
SUPPORTING SHARED SERVICES
As president of the Olympic Peninsula chapter of the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children, Marion is a grassroots leader.
The Imagine Institute invited her to be part of the team that shaped the Shared Services Hub, a program from Imagine and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families that connects licensed family child care providers and child care center directors to resources and services.
Marion and the team discussed what providers in different areas of Washington might need, and she interviewed providers in her area. Their main concern didn’t surprise her: They wanted online training options, even as pandemic precautions eased.
“It’s hard to travel to Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle area. Sometimes some providers can do it if they want to take a weekend. But a lot of times providers have big, major deep cleaning on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as needing to spend time with their families, so traveling for a training is difficult.”
Now, Marion supports other child care providers as the leader of a Community of Care, which brings together Shared Services Hub members for personal support.
She’s also a mentor to providers who become mentors in the Imagine U program. She was excited to recently meet her newest cohort.
“Sharing that knowledge with other providers a lot of times gives them the ‘aha moment,’ because they may not know or think about some things, but I’ve had the experience and I’ve gone through a lot and I know a lot. To share that is great.”